Yale Students Will Sip Fair-Traded Coffee Exclusively

As of next fall, only "Fair Trade"-certified coffee will be served in the dining halls of Yale University.

As of next fall, only “Fair Trade”-certified coffee will be served in the dining halls of Yale University.

Switching from conventionally traded coffee was the unanimous decision of members of the student advocacy group, the Yale Sustainable Food Committee, and administrators of the University dining services.

The Yale initiative is part of a worldwide campaign to redress production and trading practices in the global market that have forced many coffee farmers into poverty and have harmed the environment in a variety of ways. To earn the designation “Fair Trade” a product has to satisfy criteria set by Fairtrade Labeling Organizations (FLO), a consortium of international groups based in Bonn, Germany. In the case of coffee, Fair Trade certification guarantees that the farmer who produced the beans received at least $1.26 per pound. The FLO also ensures the payment of decent wages to hired laborers and enforces prohibitions on child labor and pesticide use. Most Fair Trade coffee is organic and shade-grown, two conditions that contribute to the preservation of tropical jungles, which harbor delicate ecosystems and endangered species of wildlife.

The Sustainable Food Committee, an arm of Yale University Dining Services, which is managed by the national food service corporation Aramark, urged the Fair Trade coffee initiative as part of its broader mission of promoting socially responsible and environmentally friendly dining. The group has also been part of the successful effort to make organic and locally grown food regular fare in Yale’s dining halls.

In announcing the Fair Trade decision, Sustainable Food Committee member Matthew Nickson expressed the hope that Yale’s commitment would set an example for other universities, and would “raise national awareness of the plight of the world’s approximately 25 million impoverished coffee farmers.”

In urging universities and other institutions with large coffee contracts to consider switching to Fair Trade, Nickson points out that the enterprise is surprisingly affordable. “Yalies drink about 9,000 pounds of coffee per year,” says Nickson. “Switching completely to Fair Trade will cost under $20,000 annually, which comes to only a few dollars per student. The moral cost of inaction is immeasurable.”

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Media Contact

Dorie Baker: dorie.baker@yale.edu, 203-432-1345