Fedele Bauccio is the CEO and Co-founder of Bon Appétit Management Company, a leading food service provider with over 400 cafes in 29 states nationally. He is also leading the industry in environmentally and socially responsible practices to create a more sustainable food system. This October, he will be honored with a James Beard Leadership Award for his inspiring positive actions and commitment to quality food and socially responsible business practices. The other nine recipients are: Michelle Obama, for her fight against childhood obesity; Alice Waters, for her Edible Schoolyard program; sustainable agriculture advocate Fred Kirschenmann; urban farmer Will Allen; and Debra Eschmeyer, Sheri L. Flies, Jan Kees Vis, Janet Poppendieck and Craig Watson.
Bauccio has spent more than 25 years creating more sustainable initiatives throughout his industry, developing programs addressing local purchasing, the overuse of antibiotics, sustainable seafood, cage-free eggs, and the connection between food and climate change. He has also worked to improve farmworker conditions in the United States.
“I’ve spent a lot of time dealing with that hidden part of our industry in terms of agricultural workers and how they are treated,” he said, citing wages, heat conditions and other fair labor practices. Bauccio visited Immokalee, FL, known as “Tomatoland,” and saw the conditions farmworkers labored in first hand. “America’s agricultural workers do jobs that are far more difficult and dangerous than the average retail or restaurant worker, yet these jobs are critical to our entire food chain. When I met with workers in the fields and saw first-hand how difficult their lives are, I knew that I could not, in good conscience, contribute to such a system. We buy almost 5 million pounds of tomatoes a year. I decided to use that power to make a real difference in the supply chain.”
In 2009, Bon Appétit Management Company and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a farmworker organization spearheading the fight for more humane farm labor standards in Florida, created an agreement to use BAMCo’s purchasing power to better working conditions for Florida’s tomato harvesters.
The agreement included guarantees of real improvements in wages and working conditions, and provided preferential purchasing incentives for growers who were willing to raise the bar even further. Highlights of the agreement include:
- A “Minimum Fair Wage” – Workers will be paid a wage premium that reflects the unique rigors and uncertainty of farm labor.
- An end to traditional forms of wage abuse – Through standards requiring growers to implement time clocks and to reconcile wages paid with pounds harvested, workers will be paid for every hour worked and every pound picked.
- Worker empowerment – Workers will be informed of their rights through a system jointly developed by the growers and the CIW. Growers will also collaborate with the CIW and Bon Appétit to implement and enforce a process for workers to pursue complaints without fear of retribution.
- Worker safety – A worker-controlled health and https://phenterminehealth.com safety committee will give farmworkers a voice in addressing potentially dangerous working conditions, including pesticide, heat, and machinery issues.
- Third-party monitoring – Growers will permit third-party monitoring that includes worker participation.
In another key provision, Bon Appétit promised to give preference to growers that exceeded its minimum standards, for instance by paying overtime — a right that farm workers are not guaranteed — or providing sick leave, holiday pay and health insurance.
The growers “can do the right thing, and our five million pounds of business can go to them,” said Bauccio “Or they can let the tomatoes rot in the fields.”
The food industry needs more people like Fedele Bauccio who care enough about the health and well being of people to use their power to make a difference.
The Natural Resources Defense Council chose him for its first Going Green Award, in 2009, and in 2007 he was named a Seafood Champion by Seafood Choices Alliance. From 2006-2008, he served on the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, a project of the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health that brought together leaders in veterinary medicine, agriculture, public health, business, government, rural advocacy, and animal welfare. He is currently a board member of Compass Group North America.