Lutherans Exceed Goal Of Purchasing 90 Tons Of Coffee

10/5/2004 12:00:00 AM

     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Challenge millions of Lutherans across the
country to purchase 90 tons of "fairly traded" coffee in a year,
and not only will they exceed that challenge but work to push it
further.  Through "Pour Justice to the Brim:  The 90-Ton
Challenge," Lutherans purchased 99 tons of fairly traded coffee
as of Oct. 1 and, in the process, affected lives and raised
social justice issues.
     In October 2003 Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America (ELCA), the women's organization of the church, Lutheran
World Relief (LWR) and Equal Exchange, a U.S. worker-owned fair-
trade organization, started the 90-Ton Challenge to encourage
Lutherans to buy fair-trade coffee, direct attention to the fair-
trade process and help farmers around the world finance their
coffee production.  Equal Exchange tracked coffee sales from Oct.
1, 2003, to Sept. 30, 2004.  LWR is the overseas relief and
development ministry of the ELCA and Lutheran Church-Missouri
Synod.  The challenge was first announced in Lutheran Woman
Today, the magazine of Women of the ELCA.
     A "main point that we wanted to embrace" with the challenge
was "to raise awareness of the fair-trade process and explore
what 'fair trade' means to the people who produce coffee," said
Nancy J. Goldberger, editor, Lutheran Woman Today.
     More than 20 million coffee farmers around the world
struggle to make a simple living and maintain adequate health
care and education for their children.  One way Lutherans have
supported and continue to support coffee farmers is by purchasing
quality coffee directly from farmers in a process called "fair
     "We also wanted to get people interested, involved and use
dollars that they spend for coffee to be channeled through a fair
and equitable system that not only provides a good product but
directly benefits the people who produce coffee, so that they
might have a quality of living that is more acceptable,"
Goldberger said.
     "The 90-Ton Challenge has been wonderful and educational,
and the energy behind it has been great," she said.  "I want to
encourage people to sustain this effort, to make fair trade a
part of their home, congregation and even work, encouraging
businesses to support fair trade."
     Goldberger noted, "The goal is not to continue to have to
buy fair trade, necessarily, but hopefully that we become
educated enough and we empower ourselves enough so that we can
change the systems, so that more of our dealings with producers
of foods and goods at home and abroad [yields] more fairly-traded
items.  It's where we're going as people of faith."
     Goldberger traveled to El Salvador and met with a group of
coffee farmers and their families in January 2003.  A purpose of
the trip "was to learn about El Salvador --the people, the
history and the current situation.  We met with fair trade
cooperatives and coffee farmers from Los Colinas to El Pinal,
hearing their stories, struggles and hopes," she said.
     "The 90-Ton Challenge has generated so much involvement
across Women of the ELCA, sparking awareness of buying habits and
driving women to explore fair trade issues," said Linda Post
Bushkofsky, executive director, Women of the ELCA.  "Women in
this church have responded to their baptismal call to strive for
peace and justice in all the earth, offering a strong public
witness of their faith," she said.
     Mary Ellen Kiesner, president of Women of the ELCA,
Menomonee Falls, Wis., will lead a group of women on a study
visit -- "On the Roof of Africa:  Women-to-Women Coffee Tour" --
Nov. 3-18 in Tanzania to learn about fair-trade coffee.  LWR is
planning the study trip specifically for Women of the ELCA.
     Some objectives of the trip include connecting faith with
consumer choices; understanding how fair trade makes a difference
for small-scale coffee farmers, their families and their
communities; learning the difference between free trade and fair
trade; and understanding the root causes of poverty.
     As a follow-up to "Pour Justice to the Brim," the December
issue of Lutheran Woman Today will include a special six-page
section that highlights the influence of the challenge on people
in the United States, and how becoming aware of fair trade has
changed their lives.  The section will also feature stories of
some coffee-farming families and how the 90-Ton Challenge has
impacted their lives.  The section also includes a litany to
celebrate the success of the challenge, as well as to encourage
sustaining the fair trade process.
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     Information about "Pour Justice to the Brim:  The 90-Ton
Challenge" is maintained at on the

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or


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