Carolyn Boone’s church brews fairly traded coffee at gatherings and sells a variety of Equal Exchange products once a month after services. Every year, they rank among Equal Exchange’s top customers! What’s their secret? We thought we’d give Carolyn the change to tell you, in her own words!
Read on to hear about some of the steps Carolyn and other volunteers take to help the program succeed — and what inspires the whole community to get behind this ministry.
We started attending Trinity Lutheran Church in Lynnwood, Washington, about ten years ago. We were drawn in large part by their commitment to community, both locally and internationally. I was drawn to the Fair Trade ministry that had been running at the church for about six years, and started to help volunteer.
We sell Equal Exchange products on the first Sunday of every month, offering coffee, tea, nuts, olive oil and, most importantly, chocolate. With a set monthly time that people can depend on, they will wait to buy their product until it’s Fair Trade Sunday, which allows the growth of a dependable customer base. We listen to their requests and pay attention to what sells and what doesn’t, and try to adjust our inventory to their needs. We also sell at our cost, since our goal is to funnel business to the Fair Trade farmers, not to raise money for some other goal. This makes us able to sell at a more attractive price than our competitors. Our church has a weekly newsletter that is emailed and handed out every week, and we make a point of putting a reminder and thank you in the week before Fair Trade Sunday.
We have been in the top 5% of Equal Exchange faith-based customers for several years now. This is due in large part because the church as a whole supports the ministry by buying all coffee through us. When we make our monthly purchase from Equal Exchange, we always buy several cases of 5-lb bags that are used in the large kitchen for fellowship hour and all other gatherings. We have a grinder that also measures the correct amount for a good pot of coffee, so it’s a seamless process. The staff kitchen uses the 2.5 oz. pillow pack coffee in their kitchen, which we also buy on a monthly basis. Other ministries in the church contribute to the cost of the coffee their group uses, so we are truly supported by the entire congregation and staff.
If we who have so much can find ways to help those of us who have so little, I believe it is our duty to do so. Farmers in the third world work so hard just to survive, while we have so much we are able to splurge on luxuries such as coffee and chocolate. It seems an easy choice to funnel our money through the most direct pipeline to those farmers while enjoying the fruits of their labor.
Galatians 2:10: Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
Got tips of your own? Let us know how you share fair trade at home, at school, at work or at church! We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
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(featuring special sales, farmer stories, Fair Trade recipes and much more)