WASHINGTON — A coalition of Catholic groups led by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is in the middle of a postcard and online petition campaign to convince one of the United States’ largest food service distributors to ensure its fish supply is not tainted by labor trafficking.
The problem of forced labor, and even slave labor, on huge fishing vessels has long been a cause for concern, leading to this year’s “Labeling for Lent” campaign by the Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking.
This year’s target is Sysco, which supplies food to many Catholic institutions.
“So many Catholic institutions, hospitals and school systems, and even some congregations and motherhouses, are supplied by Sysco,” said Jennifer Reyes Lay, executive director of Alliance to End Human Trafficking, a coalition member. “We make up a significant percentage of their business.”
“With the Lenten season, there’s some groups that use Sysco for the fish fries for their main source of seafood. That’s something that’s prevalent within the diocese,” said Christine Commerce, coordinator of the human trafficking task force in the Diocese of Orlando, Florida, another coalition member.
Commerce added, “Greater Orlando ranks third in the nation in calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. We see cases of both labor and sex trafficking here in central Florida.”
Sysco is not some unrepentant outlier when it comes to human trafficking.
“It is important to acknowledge Sysco’s efforts to begin addressing seafarers and fishers’ labor rights,” said a Labeling for Lent promotional piece issued by the coalition.
To read the full story by Mark Pattison on The Compass: Click HereTags: Lent, Sysco, USCCB