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Counter Culture Partners with CESMACH and Food 4 Farmers to Fight Seasonal Hunger

(press release by Food 4 Farmers)

November 22, 2013 – Burlington, VT – Durham, North Carolina-based Counter Culture Coffee has provided funding to the CESMACH coffee co-operative in Chiapas, Mexico, which is partnering with Food 4 Farmers to strengthen food security for the cooperative’s 400 members and their families. This new collaboration will build a long-term, comprehensive strategic plan to address “the thin months” of seasonal hunger.

EmiliaHannah Popish, Counter Culture’s Coffee Buyer’s Agent, says, “This year, Counter Culture Coffee has decided to focus our project funding on food security and sustainable agriculture. Our team – and, increasingly, the industry as a whole — recognizes that food security is vital to long-term supply chain sustainability. In 2007, the industry began to pay attention when a study in Central America showed that at least 3 months out of the year were known as ‘the thin months,’ when coffee farmers had a difficult time putting food on the table. The health and quality of coffee plants is directly tied to the health of coffee producers. If producers can’t work on their farms because they are hungry, or need to seek employment elsewhere before the coffee payment comes in, no one wins. And, access to food is truly a basic human right.’

‘We were excited to receive a proposal from CESMACH and hear that they wanted to collaborate with Food 4 Farmers, an NGO we already knew to be trusted by the coffee industry and producers alike. Partnering with an NGO to carry out our projects at origin is a dream scenario for Counter Culture. Often cooperatives are pulled thin carrying out their day-to-day operations and may not have the nuanced skills necessary to help their members with certain community development needs. Thus, pairing them with an NGO like Food 4 Farmers is an ideal marriage.”

Janice Nadworny, Food 4 Farmers Co-Director says, “This year, we’re seeing many more coffee co-operatives step up and ask for our services. They recognize the importance of long-term planning to integrate food security into their core business plans, and they’re ready to do the hard work necessary to build resilience in the face of climate change, fluctuating coffee prices, and the coffee rust crisis. We are committed to ensuring their success, and we are grateful for and energized by Counter Culture’s leadership and commitment.”

Founded in 1995, Counter Culture Coffee is the much-loved coffee roaster dedicated to finding and bringing to market the most exciting and delicious coffees in the world. The company’s vision is to pursue coffee perfection by creating partnerships dedicated to environmental, social, and fiscal sustainability throughout the coffee supply chain, improving the natural environment, and operating efficiently to minimize environmental impact. Counter Culture has eight training centers across the country including locations in New York, NY; Chicago, IL; Boston, MA; Washington, DC; Philadelphia, PA; Asheville, NC; Atlanta, GA; and Durham, NC. Served in some of the country’s top restaurants, Counter Culture Coffee is available in coffee shops, specialty grocers and online at counterculturecoffee.com.

Food 4 Farmers is a Vermont-based nonprofit that partners with coffee-farming families, co-operatives, and community-based organizations to identify challenges, resources, and strategies to build long-term solutions to hunger. Food 4 Farmers works primarily with coffee-growing organizations to coach and connect them with the expertise they need and the tools to monitor their progress over time. By empowering coffee-growing communities with the ability to identify locally appropriate solutions and strategies – and connecting them with the resources to implement those strategies – Food 4 Farmers helps coffee producing communities develop the ability to take concrete action to fight seasonal hunger.

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2 Comments

matias zeledon

It will be interesting to see how much counter culture is paying these farmers for their coffee.

With a good coffee price paid, one way above the current international ridiculous prices that the market dictates, there is no need for charity.

Do you think Hannah will share?

Hannah

Thanks for your comment, Matias. Each year, we freely share our pricing with both our consumers and the coffee producers. A full report can be found here: http://counterculturecoffee.com/sustain/transparency-report
Last year was our first year buying from Cesmach so their coffee didn’t qualify for the Direct Trade certification so they won’t be on this list but this coming year they will be!

We definitely share your concerns about pricing and thus commit to consistently pricing coffee higher than the C market in all of our long-term relationships. The C market, the way the majority of coffee is purchased, is a pricing system that we know is volatile and has proven a challenge in yielding positive livelihood results for farmers.

Lastly – in my mind the work that Food4Farmers carries out is in not what I would call charity. Charity is a loaded word in the social justice word and for me carries major connotations of privileged folks giving to not privileged folks out of guilt. There are many needs in coffee growing communities and while raising the price of coffee can impact some of them, it can’t do everything. Distributing funds to individuals doesn’t do anything to address systems that are broken in some coffee-growing communities where we work, so, according to the plans of the co-op, we try to BOTH pay premiums for good quality and to cover real costs of production, AND contribute to projects. We believe Food4Farmers is an excellent match for this kind of project as they work diligently to support and foster skills that build capacity within cooperative leadership such that they can sustainably best serve their cooperative members.

I’m happy to speak further if you want to get in touch! – hpopish@counterculturecoffee.com

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