By Elizabeth O'Connell, Green America
Very early, and not quite yet bright, we jumped in the car and headed north…for Hershey, PA. At 9:00am we met Jasper Perry-Anderson, a Philadelphia eighth grader who created an online petition encouraging the company to increase its commitment to ethically sourced cocoa to prevent abusive child labor on the cocoa farms from where it sources.
In just two weeks, Jasper’s petition on Change.org gained more than 16,000 signatures from individuals around the world. In addition to the petitions we delivered more than 500 Valentines made by kids for the members of the Hershey Trust. These Valentines were made by students from across the country, though largely from New York State thanks to NYSUT and the New York Labor Religion Coalition. The Valentines contained statements like “This Valentine’s Day, I want to give my Valentine chocolate from laborers who have earned fair wages” and “We have feelings and so do Africa’s kids. They suffer.”
Cathy O’Brien, an employee of the Trust, accepted the petitions and valentines on behalf of the the Trust.
Simultaneously, on the other side of the country, 56 seventh and eighth graders delivered Valentines to the Chairman of the Trust, Robert Cavanaugh, at his real estate office in Los Angeles, CA. Mr. Cavanaugh accepted the petitions.
For two years we have called on The Hershey Company’s executives and board to take meaningful action to prevent child labor throughout their supply chain. With little progress, we have taken it up a notch. The Hershey Trust is in charge of the Hershey school, controls approximately eighty percent of the voting shares of The Hershey Company, and holds several seats on the company’s board of directors.
It’s not too late to sign Jasper’s Petition! Have a happy and just Valentines Day!
And a few of the Valentines (because they are so cute!)