College Honors Fair Trade Month

A series of events will take place around campus in October to raise awareness about sustainable labor practices in the free market.

Each school year, the director of Manhattan’s Campus Ministry and Social Action (CMSA), Lois Harr, and her cohort of social justice advocates gear up to educate a new crop of students on the importance of purchasing fair trade goods.

But according to Harr, asking them to buy these items, which are produced by farmers and workers who receive adequate pay and can perform their duties in a safe environment, is not a tough sell. It just makes sense.

“The nature of the college environment is that students come and go, so it’s a constant commitment on our part to inform students on social justice, of which fair trade practices are a concrete example,” Harr says.

Throughout October, CMSA will host a number of Fair Trade Month events that raise awareness of the ideals of Fair Trade USA, a nonprofit organization that regulates transactions between U.S. companies and international suppliers. Its efforts go toward ensuring that as many workers as possible receive the tools, training and resources to live and produce sustainably.

In February 2012, Manhattan became the first Fair Trade College in New York City. As such, Fair Trade USA required that the campus carry fair trade goods within all campus dining halls, restaurants, cafes and the bookstore from that moment forward.

According to Harr, celebrating Fair Trade Month in October— the timeframe designated by the nonprofit—is an opportunity to promote social justice and responsibility. All year round, she and other Manhattan faculty members encourage students to adhere to these principles, as they are integral to the College’s Lasallian heritage.

Fair Trade Month events at Manhattan College include:

Wednesday, Oct. 7, 12-1 p.m. Beads for Life, on the Quad. The campus community is invited to create a bracelet out of fair trade beads that are made by Ugandan women living in extreme poverty. The beads are created from bits of recycled paper. 

Friday, Oct. 9, 16, 23 and 30, all-day. Fridays in Locke’s Loft. Locke’s will serve a number of breakfast and dessert items made with fair trade bananas, including banana bread, banana pancakes and bananas foster. 

Wednesday, Oct. 14, 12-1 p.m. Coffee Break. Stop by Miguel Hall 209 and 207a for a cup of java produced through socially responsible labor practices in countries including Ethiopia, Nicaragua and Peru.

Wednesday, Oct. 28, 12-1 p.m. Ice Cream Social. Discuss the processes through which ingredients in this sugary treat are produced and transported to our grocery stores and ice cream parlors. 

For more information about these events, contact Lois Harr at (718) 862-7142 or

By Christine Loughran