Jun 27, 2022
Equitable Food Initiative elects board members

NatureSweet Tomatoes’ Fernanda Suárez and Natalie Camacho Mendoza of Farmworker Justice are the newest board members elected to lead the Equitable Food Initiative (EFI).

Fernanda Suárez

The newest board members should bring social responsibility leadership and stakeholder balance to the organization, according to a news release. Mendoza succeeds retiring Bruce Goldstein for Farmworker Justice.

NatureSweet Tomatoes is a founding member of EFI and has been a leading advocate for creating socially responsible workforce programs in the fresh produce industry. Suárez, based in Guadalajara, Mexico, is NatureSweet’s sustainability and social impact director. She brings more than a decade of experience focused on human resources and social compliance. Suárez is passionate about the produce industry and wants to contribute to making sure that all farmworkers are treated with respect and dignity, according to the release.

“As an HR professional, I understand the power of individuals to contribute to the greater good, and I’ve seen firsthand how powerful diversity, equity, leadership training and inclusion initiatives can be in transforming cultures,” Suárez said in t “EFI provides opportunities for organizations to be a champion for farmworkers and ultimately, be the change we want to create in building safer, more equitable food supply chains.”

Mendoza joins EFI as an extension of her role with Farmworker Justice. Her family roots in the agriculture and railroad industries run deep and influence her work as an attorney and owner of Camacho Mendoza Law. Mendoza has worked in Idaho with and on behalf of unions and employers and as a farmworker advocate. She served on a variety of local, state, regional and national boards and committees addressing criminal justice reform, income inequality, civil rights and art and culture, but is most proud of her work as the board chair of Farmworker Justice.

Since its founding, EFI has attracted board members who reflect the diversity of perspectives across the fresh produce industry. “We believe in representative decision-making and our board composition assures that all players in the produce supply chain are at the table, including retailers, grower-shippers, farmworkers and consumers.” Peter O’Driscoll, EFI’s executive director, said in the release. “I am thrilled to welcome these talented and compassionate women to our board to join EFI in promoting better agricultural workplaces, and a more equitable food system.”

EFI works with 32 grower-shipper companies on 78 farms, with 52 certifications completed and 26 more in progress. Through the EFI program, 4,000 farmworkers and managers have been trained in problem-solving and communications practices that are improving labor, food safety and pest management standards for more than 58,000 workers, according to the release.

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