Green America: Growing the Green Economy for People and the Planet

Eighth Grader Asks Hershey School Trustees to Stop Exploiting Forced Child Labor for Profit

Student Delivers More Than 16,000 Petition Signatures and Valentines to Hershey’s School Trust on Behalf of Children Harvesting Cocoa in West Africa

February 14, 2012

HERSHEY, PA -- Pennsylvania eighth grade student, Jasper Perry-Anderson, delivered more than 16,000 Valentine’s Day petition signatures collected in less than two weeks to the Hershey School Trust, demanding the school stop profiting from the exploitation of children in West Africa. The trust controls approximately eighty percent of the voting shares of The Hershey Company and holds several seats on the company’s board of directors.

Jasper Perry-Anderson launched the petition on Change.org in honor of Valentine’s Day, the second largest day for chocolate sales in the US, after the Hershey Company’s recent promise to improve the lives of West African cocoa farmers failed to meet the standard set by competitors for supply chain traceability and child labor free chocolate.

In addition to the signatures, Jasper and her friends delivered hundreds of Valentines to the trustees made by children from New York State and across the country with 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.” A simultaneous action occurred in Los Angeles where seventh and eighth graders from Long Beach, CA delivered hundreds of signatures and Valentines to a member of the Hershey Trust who lives in California.

“Mr. Hershey established the Milton Hershey School and School Trust to provide full-time education and care for disadvantaged children,” said Jasper. “As the majority stockholder of Hershey’s Chocolate Company, the Hershey Trust also needs to do more to take care of the children in West African it’s exploiting for profit.”

These actions were coordinated by Raise the Bar, Hershey!, a coalition of organizations fighting ongoing labor abuses such as child labor, forced labor and trafficking in the cocoa industry. The campaign has involved over one hundred thousand consumers who voiced their concerns to Hershey about the company’s child labor practices.

Jasper’s petition is live at: http://www.change.org/petitions/hersheys-trust-stop-exploiting-children-to-grow-cocoa-beans .

The Raise the Bar, Hershey! Coalition is led by the following organizations:

GREEN AMERICA is the nation’s leading green economy organization. Founded in 1982, Green America (formerly Co-op America) provides the economic strategies, organizing power and practical tools for businesses and individuals to solve today's social and environmental problems. www.GreenAmerica.org

GLOBAL EXCHANGE is a membership-based international human rights organization dedicated to promoting social, economic and environmental justice around the world. www.GlobalExchange.org

INTERNATIONAL LABOR RIGHTS FORUM is an advocacy organization dedicated to achieving just and humane treatment for workers worldwide. www.LaborRights.org

LABOR RELIGION COALITION OF NEW YORK STATE builds coalitions and campaigns for economic justice. Its Fair Trade Project engages teachers and students in ending child labor and creating a more just and sustainable world.

Change.org is the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change — growing by more than 400,000 new members a month, and empowering millions of people to start, join, and win campaigns for social change in their community, city and country. www.change.org

CONTACTS:
Elizabeth O’Connell, Raise the Bar, Hershey Coalition, (704) 582 3634, eoconnell@greenamerica.org (in Hershey)
Jasper Perry-Anderson via Amanda Kloer, Director of Organizing, Change.org (202) 684-2552, press@change.org

 

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