ESSO Fair Trade Exeter Club Receives Certification Diploma

Monica Acosta ’15, Jeanne Olivier ’15, Sam Tan ’16 and Rex Tercek ’16
April 2, 2014
Caption: Mary Jo Cook, chief impact officer at Fair Trade USA, talks with a student after assembly.

Caption: Mary Jo Cook, chief impact officer at Fair Trade USA, talks with a student after assembly.

From Ecuadoran chocolate to bananas grown in the fields of Colombia, fair trade products are delectable, equitable, and thanks to the ESSO Fair Trade Exeter Club, accessible to the Exeter community.

Since Jeanne Olivier ’15 founded Fair Trade Exeter in the winter of 2013, the club has grown into a group of 17 loyal members who, through the biweekly sale of fair trade products in the Phelps Academy Center Agora, educate the student body on the benefits of fair trade for farming cooperatives in developing countries.

“Our goal is to educate the Exeter community and introduce a variety of fair trade merchandise on campus,” Olivier says. “When people buy something, we make sure they know what fair trade is. Hopefully, we can change consuming habits by showing that fair trade is an option which offers quality products while also empowering farming communities.”

“I don’t think many people here in Exeter, or even the United States, know how purchasing a fair trade-certified product can help the global community,” says Trishna Mohite ’16, a member of FTE. “What sets fair trade apart from other nonprofit social organizations is that it’s not just a charity. It enables the producers and farmers to make a sustainable living by selling their own products.”

Over the winter, FTE underwent a 3-step program to become a certified fair trade school by Fair Trade USA Campaigns. This certification entails the fulfillment of 3 goals: source fair trade products, build a team, and commit to fair trade education and events. Middle schools and high schools nationwide participated in the trial. PEA was 1 of 9 schools to be certified.

Mary Jo Cook, chief impact officer at Fair Trade USA, spoke at a recent assembly. She talked about fair trade cooperatives she has visited and the benefits for communities that reinvest funds in projects such as irrigation, health services, education and sanitary installation.

Exonians appreciated Cook’s realism, professionalism and enthusiasm. In her opinion, the global market has to create an equilibrium between farmers, businesses and consumers so that everyone in the work chain can benefit from fair trade. Cook received a myriad of questions and much interest.

At the end of her talk, Cook awarded FTE with its fair trade certification diploma.

Cook also met with Dining Services to discuss the possibility of offering fair trade products in our dining halls. “We are trying to get Fair Trade to be more present in the dining halls, Grill and in certain classes,” Olivier says. “That way, we will ensure that fair trade has a permanent presence on campus.”

ESSO, a student-run service learning organization, offers more than 80 different clubs and projects. ESSO’s popularity – 700 students are actively involved – has engendered the term “ESSOnians.”