By Meg Short
Over the course of 10 days, the University’s PEACE Club sold over 120 Fair Trade chocolate bars to students, faculty, and staff.
“We wanted to give people the opportunity to spread the love this Valentine’s Day with an ethical alternative,” said Katey Ebaugh, PEACE Club Vice President. “Instead of the typical Valentine’s Day fundraiser where you can send your loved ones bottles of Crush pop, we offered Fair Trade chocolate bars.”
The group purchased Green and Black Chocolate brand bars at wholesale from The Food Store, a health and wellness business located in downtown Bluffton and owned by several University staff members.
PEACE Club sold the bars for exactly $2.75 each, which is what The Food Store bulk price was set at. Three varieties of the chocolate bars were available for patrons to choose from: Dark, Mint, and Milk.
“The goal of this project was not to raise funds for ourselves, but rather to educate people about the importance of buying Fair Trade chocolate, instead of some cheaper options they may have purchased as gifts around Valentine’s Day,” said PEACE Club President Emily Short.
The Fair Trade certification for chocolate companies ensures that the buyers purchase cocoa harvested from farmers who have not used slave or child labor. According to FairTradeUSA.org, cocoa farmers are often forced to sell their harvest to middlemen who rig scales or misrepresent prices, and this forces them to offer less to employees. Many people are unaware that many mainstream chocolate providers purchase cocoa from farms with such difficult working conditions.
“We’re pleased with the impact we were able to make with the $330 worth of chocolate we purchased, and through those who may not have known what Fair Trade was about beforehand who decided to purchase a bar or two,” said Short. “We would love to make this an annual occurrence. Now that we have it organized, hopefully it can continue and grow even larger.”
PEACE Club is a student-led campus organization committed to peace-building and social justice within the context of our university, our towns, our country, and our world. PEACE Club is advised by Matt Friesen, Assistant professor of sociology.