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Grounds for Change

Greg Schaber

The idea of using fair-trade coffee for the Romero International Student Center’s weekly coffee hour had been brewing in Kathy Hammett’s mind for some time. But while the director for the center was concerned about affordability, when an alumnus asked, “Is this fair-trade coffee?” she began researching potential suppliers.

With the help of Glenn Chun, S.J., a former instructor in the University’s department of accountancy, Hammett hooked up with Equal Exchange, a Massachusetts-based fair-trade co-op that offers special pricing for non-profit or religious organizations. Soon the switch was complete. “It just seemed very appropriate as a Jesuit institution, with our focus on service and justice,” Hammett says.

The fair-trade movement has grown in recent years as independent companies and trade organizations have sprung up to help farmers and artisans in developing countries get a fair price for their goods and earn a decent living wage. Most of the coffee served at the weekly events at Xavier comes from El Salvador and Nicaragua. “It is good coffee,” Hammett says. “We drink a lot of coffee over here. We probably average around 70 people every week, and we have a coffee hour almost every week of the school year.”

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