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Equitable Food Initiative Elects Two New Board Members

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Equitable Food Initiative, a multi-stakeholder workforce development and certification organization, has named Fernanda Suárez and Natalie Camacho Mendoza as new board members. Suárez will represent NatureSweet Tomatoes and Camacho Mendoza takes the place of retiring Bruce Goldstein for Farmworker Justice.

Since its founding, EFI has attracted board members who reflect the diversity of perspectives across the fresh produce industry.

Peter O’Driscoll, executive director of EFI, said, “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. 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.”

Fernanda Suárez

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

When asked about joining the EFI board, Suárez said, “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. 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.” 

Camacho 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. She has worked in Idaho with and on behalf of unions and employers and as a farmworker advocate.

Natalie Camacho Mendoza

Camacho Mendoza served and continues to serve on a variety of local, state, regional and national boards and committees addressing criminal justice reform, income inequality, civil rights and art and culture.

Camacho Mendoza sees benefits from extending her role with Farmworker Justice to EFI’s board. “My goal is to encourage more comprehensive views of farm labor and help all stakeholders understand the business side of agriculture,” Camacho Mendoza said. “On the heels of the pandemic, more people are aware of the ‘always essential’ workers who contribute to our food supply, and I’m eager to leverage that for improving working conditions and supporting everyone who plays a role in agriculture.” 

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.

Industry members interested in learning more about EFI can access information at equitablefood.org/resources.

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