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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Ford fuels fair-trade coffee

What do Fords, Lutherans and coffee have in common? For those of you who drive a Ford to church and are now sipping coffee, probably a lot. But there's more.

The Ford Foundation recently made a two-year grant of $200,000 to Lutheran World Relief toward a campaign among religious groups to promote fair trade coffee — coffee for which producers receive a fair price.

More than 2,000 Lutheran congregations participate in LWR's coffee project. The goal, said Cherri Waters, LWR vice president, is "a tenfold increase" in congregations and individuals who buy fairly traded coffee.

It's helping already in Moshi, Tanzania, where LWR partner Equal Exchange gets beans for Tanzanian Jubilee coffee. Through Equal Exchange, farmers in the Kilimanjaro Native Cooperative Union can sell 10 percent to 15 percent of their crop at fair prices to Europe, Japan and the United States.

The farmers, most of whom are Lutheran, grow their coffee by organic standards. Union members are using their profits to improve schools and dispensaries (many of which are also Lutheran), purchase school and medical supplies, and improve farming equipment.


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