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Equal Exchange: Interfaith Coffee Program

Abstract Equal Exchange is a United States (US) for-profit company dedicated to fair trade, ethical consumerism, and sustainable agriculture. The largest certified fair trade coffee company in North America, Equal Exchange connects coffee consumers in the United States and Canada with small-scale, democratically-run, and ecologically-responsible farming cooperatives in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Equal Exchange offers a socially, economically, and environmentally responsible approach to trade by buying directly from coffee farmers in developing countries, paying a fair price, providing small farmers with affordable credit, supporting democratic cooperatives, and encouraging organic and shade-grown farming practices. Through its Interfaith Coffee Program, Equal Exchange works with religious institutions and organizations to raise awareness about fair trade, promote ethical consumerism, and encourage individuals and institutions to switch to fairly-traded coffee. In addition to facilitating this switch by offering wholesale prices on its coffee to religious organizations, communities, and houses of worship, the program encourages congregational fundraising for social, economic, and environmental justice efforts through the sale of Equal Exchange coffee. Through this program, Equal Exchange also provides educational materials about fair trade, sustainable agriculture, global justice, and responsible consumerism to religious congregations, organizations, and individuals.
Religion Inter-religious
Geographic Location North America
Duration of Project 1997–Present
History

Equal Exchange was founded in 1986 as a worker-owned cooperative dedicated to fair trade, responsible consumerism, and sustainable farming. Thinking that their ethical approach to trade and consumption might appeal to religious communities, Equal Exchange collaborated with Lutheran World Relief to launch the Interfaith Coffee Program in 1997. Religious institutions and organizations quickly became the company’s fastest-growing business sector. The program now includes six different denominational organizations and more than 5,000 individual houses of worship and religious organizations in the United States.

Mission Statement Equal Exchange seeks “to build long-term trade partnerships that are economically just and environmentally sound, to foster mutually beneficial relations between farmers and consumers, and to demonstrate through our success the viability of worker-owned cooperatives and fair trade.”
Partner Organizations American Friends Service Committee
Brethren Witness
Lutheran World Relief
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
United Methodist Committee on Relief
Long-Term Goals None Listed
Bibliography None Listed
Additional Research Resources None Listed
Contact Information Equal Exchange
Interfaith Coffee Program
251 Revere Street
Canton, MA 02021
Ph:       781.830.0303 x228
Fax:     781.830.0282
Email: (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)