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The Mass Media

Fair Trade Club Founder on Her Cause and Upcoming Events

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The Fair Trade Club has a fair trade farmer speaking on April 22 in the Point Lounge

 

 

Maritza Merino’s life changed two years ago when her company, Ben & Jerry’s, sent her to an MIT symposium about fair trade, where she learned about the documentary “The Dark Side of Chocolate.” The documentary investigates human trafficking and child labor in the worldwide chocolate industry.

“I haven’t had a Hershey’s bar since,” Merino said after learning that Hershey’s uses chocolate produced by child labor.

Merino has been doing more than just not eating candy in response to watching “The Dark Side of Chocolate.” She started the Fair Trade Club at UMass Boston.

“It’s my baby,” said Merino about her club, which meets bi-weekly and discusses how to bring fair trade to UMass Boston.

Merino dedicates a lot of her time to raising awareness about fair trade.

“I feel like I’m doing something with fair trade every week until the end of May,” said Merino, who is also involved with the Fair Trade Coalition in Boston.

One way the club is trying to bring fair trade to UMass Boston is by meeting the requirements set by The Fair Trade Colleges and Universities, an organization with a mission to “inspire institutions of higher learning to support the fair trade movement.”

UMass Boston’s Fair Trade Club has met two of the requirements.

“We have a committee that meets regularly, and the commitment to fair trade education. We’ll have a total of three major fair trade events by the end of this semester,” said Merino, whose club has hosted events serving fair trade ice cream.

The club currently has a picture contest where anyone can submit a picture or a drawing supporting fair trade. The contest will run until the end of April, and the winner will receive a fair trade gift basket.

On April 22, the Fair Trade Club will be hosting another event in the Point Lounge of a fair trade farmer from Guatamala speaking.

“He’s going to share his story about how he’s benefitted from fair trade,” said Merino.

This summer, when Sodexo’s contract is up at UMass, there will be another opportunity to bring fair trade products to campus. As of right now, it is not in Sodexo’s contract to use fair trade products for UMass’ dining services. 

However, Dining Services does offer fair trade options, and Merino hopes that UMass will sign a contract to bring Sodexo’s fair trade services to UMass Boston.

“Right now is a perfect time to meet with food and dining services because the contract is going to go up,” said Merino.

Next semester, the Fair Trade Club plans to host a movie night where they will screen “The Dark Side of Chocolate,” the film that inspired Merino to advocate for fair trade in the first place.