Church Promotes Guilt-Free Chocolate for Halloween

The United Methodist Church and a group promoting economically just trade policies have teamed up to raise awareness about fair trade this Halloween.

Equal Exchange, United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) of the United Methodist Church have created an educational resource to increase awareness of the UMCOR Coffee Project and the need to advocate for better working conditions and prices for cocoa farmers throughout the world.

As part of their campaign, Equal Exchange is selling fairly traded mini chocolates and trick-o-treat bags on its online Interfaith Store.

Susan Burton, director of the UM seminar program at the General Board of Church and Society, recalls, "After my 3 year old and I went trick-or-treating, I sorted her candy. I found a post card in her bag encouraging me to buy fair trade chocolate. I realized that was another way that I could put my faith into action and I wanted to make this opportunity available to United Methodists."

Purchasing fairly traded products allows small-scale farmers to earn a fair living wage and gives them an opportunity to break out of the cycle of poverty.

In West Africa, for instance, there is a long-time practice of child labor on cocoa farms. But with Fair Trade Certified cocoa, the whole process from farmers to the store is monitored by independent, non-profit, certifying organizations to guarantee that no child labor or forced labor is used in the production of cocoa.

The cocoa is bought directly from a democratically controlled cooperative of small scale farmers, and the farmers are paid enough money to support their families with food, education and other necessities.

The United Methodist Church highlights that global poverty is one of the denomination's four focus areas. The initiative offers congregants an opportunity to increase awareness of systems helping to fight global poverty.

UMCOR is currently in the midst of a 100-Ton Challenge, which seeks to increase awareness about fair trade in United Methodist churches and sell 100 tons of fairly traded products.

In 2007, United Methodist bought 68 tons of fairly-traded products through the UMCOR Coffee Project – 100 tons would be a new record.

The 12-month campaign began in May and will end May 9, 2009.

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