11/22/2012 10:27 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

A Tale of Two Thanksgivings

This holiday season, ask Publix to join us at the Fair Food table...

The holiday season is upon us, which means it's time again to gather around the table with loved ones to celebrate another year of life together, of new beginnings and old friends, of triumphs and of the challenges ahead.

The holiday table unites us, and reminds us that -- no matter how high, or low, our day to day lives may take us -- in the end, we always make our way back to those whom we love the most, and when we are with them, the world feels right.

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Love is the essence of the holidays. Love for our parents and their parents, love for our children and their children. Love for our friends, and love for all men and women with whom we share this fragile world. The holiday table reminds us that, in the end, we are all family, and that we can only truly enjoy the bounties that life gives us if we all enjoy them together, as one.

No one knows this better than Publix. Its holiday commercials (right) are a tour de force in touching that place deep inside each of us that loves not just our families and friends, but our fellow man, too, regardless of the divisions that may separate us in our daily lives. Publix commercials never fail to remind us just how much we have to be thankful for, and how powerful an emotion our love can truly be.

But love without goodwill is an empty emotion. And, sadly, the holiday season has become an annual reminder that Publix -- a company founded by a man, George Jenkins, who famously said the words "Don"t let making a profit stand in the way of doing the right thing" -- is a company that has lost its way. Like any family, the families who own and run Publix gather around their holiday tables and reflect on their joys and struggles. For the families who run Publix, among those joys, year after year, are soaring profits. Yet they inexplicably continue to turn their backs on the farmworkers who make those profits possible.

Despite the tremendous strides made by the Fair Food Program in recent years -- progress made possible thanks to tens of thousands of consumers, dozens of Florida tomato growers, and eleven multi-billion dollar food corporations that have joined farmworkers at the Fair Food table -- Publix refuses to do its part to help farmworkers live a dignified life for the backbreaking, essential work they do day in and day out. In the words of the CIW's Lucas Benitez, "Publix doesn't want us at the table. They want us under the table."

No matter what your faith or philosophy, the holiday season is a time to remember that no one was born into this world to suffer, and that, in some real way, the suffering of one diminishes us all. This year, let's remind Publix of the true meaning of love, a love that goes beyond the bottom line and embraces all the people that make up Publix's extended family, including the farmworkers that put food on their shelves and the consumers who ask their favorite grocery store to make that food Fair Food.

To do so, you can click here to sign a petition to Publix today. Ask Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw to ensure that his company "be part of a proven model to address the root cause of farmworker poverty across Florida, and demonstrate that it values the hard work of farmworkers who make possible the food we share this holiday."

Here below is the text of the petition, so take a look and click on the link above to send it to Publix today:

To: Publix Super Markets, Inc.

As the holiday season approaches, we pause to spend time with friends and family, give thanks, and reflect on the importance of community.

We know that Publix takes pride in giving back to communities across Florida, especially in donating food during the Thanksgiving season. It is true that food insecurity -- as Publix defines, "a condition that arises from a lack of enough income and other resources for food" - is a persistent, sobering reality in our communities. We recognize, as signs hanging in your stores this year state, that local families are going hungry. Indeed, many of these families will enjoy a hearty Thanksgiving meal because of Publix Super Markets Charities and Publix customers' donations.

Paradoxically, many of these Florida families who cannot afford to purchase their own turkey dinners are the very people who harvest the bounty that we celebrate on Thanksgiving Day. Some of these families work hard picking tomatoes, laboring 10+ hour days, six days a week to put food on their - and our - tables. Despite this strenuous work, farmworkers' pay is often so low that they do not have the resources to adequately provide for their own families. Farmworkers deserve fair pay and dignified working conditions for that hard work.

Thankfully, tremendous progress has been made towards these aims through the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' Fair Food Program, a historic partnership between farmworkers, 90 per cent of tomato growers in Florida, and 11 major food retailers including McDonald's, Whole Foods, and most recently Chipotle Mexican Grill. Under the program, major retailers pay a small premium on their tomato purchases, to be passed through to farmworkers by the growers for whom they work, and target their purchases to growers who meet higher human rights standards. Since 2011, the Fair Food Program has distributed over $7 million to workers through the penny-per-pound premium. This money gives farmworkers resources to be able to provide for their families all year round.

As we gather for Thanksgiving, we will give thanks for the Fair Food Program and the transformation it has brought to Florida's tomato fields that is dramatically improving farmworkers' quality of life. We ask you, Publix Super Markets, to deepen your commitment to giving back to the community by joining the Fair Food Program - a real, sustainable solution to food insecurity and poverty in our shared communities. Publix's participation in the Fair Food Program would dramatically expand its impact.

Today, we ask Publix to take the opportunity to be part of a proven model to address the root cause of farmworker poverty across Florida, and demonstrate that it values the hard work of farmworkers who make possible the food we share this holiday.

click here to sign

Have a happy, and safe, Thanksgiving.