80 students and young people converge in Immokalee for #2015Encuentro, 15+ actions in the works for upcoming "Schooling Wendy’s" Week of Action

With the culmination of the #2015Encuentro, which was a live testament to all the joy, love, compañerismo and commitment that fuels the SFA network, Encuentro participants headed out of Immokalee pumped and ready to join the rest of the Fair Food Nation in putting the heat squarely on Wendy’s during the upcoming “Schooling Wendy’s” National Week of Action, with confirmed actions in over 15 cities, including Gainesville, Columbus and Austin! 

Check out actions happening near you or contact us at organize@sfalliance.org to plan your own! 

The long weekend represented the brilliant power built when students and young people fight alongside farmworkers for systemic change in the U.S. food industry. And to capture the Encuentro’s vibrancy, we’ve compiled beautiful photos from the weekend in a day-by-day photo report that will give you the inside scoop on what went down during this year’s Encuentro: 

 

THURSDAY, SEPT. 10

Over 80 Encuentro participants, all together representing over 25 schools and universities and communities all over the country, made their way down to Immokalee, eager to connect with and learn from the community leading the struggle for justice in the fields from the very core of the Fair Food movement. The CIW Women’s Group gave a heartfelt bienvenida to participants who gathered at the CIW Community Center for the opening ceremony, setting a warm and grounding tone for the rest of the weekend. The night continued on with many introductions, laughs andeven surprises, as farmworkers and the Encuentro crew broke out in song, in true CIW style, to celebrate the birthday of one of the community's smallest CIW members. 

FRIDAY, SEPT. 11

Still feeling the grounding energy from the night before, participants rose bright and early for a full day of sessions and workshops: hearing directly from the CIW on the hard-fought changes that are now transforming the agricultural industry in Florida and beyond, getting an exclusive, in-depth look at the intricacies of Fair Food Program (and where it’s set to head this upcoming season), learning the rich history of SFA organizing alongside farmworkers and honing new skills to organize against corporate greed. Day 2 was capped off with one of the most essential sessions of the weekend, a CIW-led solidarity discussion, in which seeds of consciousness and commitment were planted (and re-planted) within ourselves.

SATURDAY, SEPT. 12

On Day 3, participants dove deep into campaign strategy sessions: extensively planning for next week’s “Schooling Wendy’s” National Week of Action, skillfully outlining Wendy’s student boycott campaigns, intentionally building youth-specific strategy around the six-year Publix campaign, and intensely crafting a yearlong SFA campaign gameplan to take us through the fall and into the spring, with much anticipation for CIW’s major spring action in 2016. 

By mid afternoon, the strategy sessions were put to practice and served as an extra burst of ánimo as Encuentro participants were fired up to hit the streets with the Immokalee farmworker community to demand that both Wendy’s and Publix stop their futile attempts to turn back the clocks on human rights and join the Fair Food Program. Rocking signs with messages reading "Students Boycott Wendy's" and signature tomato buckets with the words of justice and dignity, participants jampacked two buses, hitting the road to Naples for a Wendy’s and Publix protest. 

At the colorful, high energy action, CIW members and SFAers led two separate delegations into the Publix and Wendy’s establishments. At the closing, the crowd of over 100 people gathered for a reportback from the two delegation teams. Dafne Jacobs, a student at UF, shared her exchange with the Wendy’s manager: 

“I am a student at the University of Florida, and we have a Wendy’s on campus, and we are all really committed to this cause. We’re not gonna let corporations keep stealing the rights of the people, especially the workers that provide them with the [produce] they sell!”

Once back in Immokalee, and after a delicious meal shared between SFAers and CIW members, participants shared poetry and art, music and dance during the longstanding Encuentro tradition, Café Cultura. Jaequan Allison topped off the night with an electric break dance performance that kicked off even more dancing for the rest of the night.

SUNDAY, SEPT. 13

After three full days of Fair Food lovin’, SFAers learned from fellow participants about the transformational work of the Dream Defenders and Real Food Challenge. During the closing session, Silvia Perez of the CIW sent off the group with a unifying message: Students and young people have been a driving force behind the CIW's 14 victories, and when we fight together there is no doubt we will win. 

SFAers are harnessing the powerful energy from the #2015Encuentro and turning planning into action to teach Wendy’s a lesson on Fair Food next week! The weekend served as a very real reminder for Wendy’s that SFA's national student boycott won’t be ending anytime soon, in fact it will only get stronger with each passing day that Wendy’s stalls on making a real commitment to human rights for farmworkers in its supply chain. We’re ready to go, Wendy’s! Are you?

Stay tuned as we send out more updates on the "Schooling Wendy's" National Week of Action, and be sure tocontact us at organize@sfalliance.org if you’d like to add your action to the mix. 

In the meantime, we leave you with the beautifully written reflections on the Encuentro weekend of participants Priscilla Vélez, fresh to the SFA network and a student at Southeastern University in Lakeland, and Joe Deras, a third-year SFA Steering Committee member:

The Encuentro inspired me to see how the Fair Food Movement is so much bigger than myself and than my own community. As a young person who is currently organizing for the Publix Campaign in Lakeland, I was filled with a great amount of hope as I collaborated with other passionate, young organizers who are united and determined to strategize and build power together for this campaign. Engaging with other young people who are extremely driven to pressure Publix to join the Fair Food Program empowered me to organize with greater boldness within my own community.
- Priscilla Vélez | Lakeland, FL

It’s been three years since I first heard la verdad de los trabajadores de Immokalee (the truth of those who work in Immokalee). Whether it was by chance or by fate I knew that I could no longer ignore the injustices that produced the tomatoes I ate. Over the next three years I witnessed not only my commitment but that of hundreds of other students grow to levels beyond measurement. Students whose energy does not cease and whose spirits will not rest until justice for farmworkers is achieved. The annual youth Encuentro is a magical place where we find each other and prepare to struggle against those who will deny The New Day for farmworkers. Last Sunday I left Immokalee, not believing, but, knowing that will win!
- Joe Deras | Denver, CO