In January, President Percy signed a resolution that makes PSU the first University in Oregon to become Fair Trade Certified. This initiative was the product of a partnership with the Campus Sustainability Office, PSU Eats, & the Fair Trade Campaign, and commits the university to offering fair trade products in all campus food service, catering, and markets.
Purchasing fair trade products endorses an economic system that lifts producers out of poverty through equitable trading partnerships. Kim DiNardo, Director of Marketing & Guest Experience for PSU Eats, explains that, when it comes to campus commitments to sustainability and social responsibility, food is low hanging fruit. Sustainable procurement does not just include environmental impact, but also procurement that centers equity.
“We need to ensure we’re not exploiting farmers and workers. It’s important for us to focus on purchasing products that are fair and paying people what they should be paid for their products. We’re doing what’s right,” explains DiNardo, “President Percy’s focus right now is equity.”
This resolution affects partners all across campus, and changes are already visible. Tens of thousands of Fair Trade Certified products are on the market, including coffee, tea, chocolate, flowers, fruits and vegetables, grains, apparel, artisan crafts, and more. These products can be found in dining halls, the PSU Bookstore, Smith Memorial Student Union, the library, and many other locations across campus.
While COVID-19 has posed PSU Eats many challenges in balancing safety with their commitments to sustainability, this resolution is a big step forward for PSU that will set a precedent for other universities in the state.