ID NEWS: Activists seek college foodservice purchases of certified 'fair trade' coffee

United Students for Fair Trade, a group of social activists at America's colleges, is seeking to get schools to purchase only coffee that has earned a fair trade certification from TransFair USA and fair trade organizations in other countries.

As many as 200 schools are responding to the activist call for changes in the way they purchase coffee, in order to help poor farmers, mainly in Central America, according to the Associated Press. The activists perceive a crisis in pricing of coffee, the world's second-most traded commodity. Prices have dropped 70% in the last five years, leaving many farmers in the developing world impoverished, they say.

As further reported in Vending Market Watch, Stephanie Green, president of United Students for Fair Trade, says she gives Starbucks "high marks" for trying to work with fair trade proponents; nevertheless, she thinks they can "still do better." A college sophomore, Green also says her work with Georgetown University has taught her that conversion to fair trade coffee is a "laborious process." It requires that colleges review contractual agreements with foodservice providers who must, in turn, revisit their obligations to distributors.

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