MANKATO — After more than a year of work, Loyola has been named the first K-12 Fair Trade school in the country.
“We had a pretty excited group of Fair Trade Committee students,” said Loyola teacher Emily Kracht, who has helped lead the Fair Trade charge at the school. “I told them, ‘It doesn’t end here. It’s about where do we take it from here?’”
The school has been adhering to a set of criteria by Fair Trade Colleges and Universities USA and has put on various events to promote fair trade. Teacher Emily Kracht took the responsibility of documenting the school’s work toward the goal, which was a lengthy process.
Some of the requirements included having fair trade products available at the school, developing a fair trade procurement policy and committing to fair trade education, among other criteria.
“The packet with the application was quite thick,” Kracht said.
The Fair Trade committee at Loyola has about 30 members who promote within the school and community the socioeconomic movement to cut out the middle men and pass revenue back to producers. Marissa Lee, a senior, said in February that fair trade encourages better wages and improved conditions for workers who make products bought by Americans, from coffee to fabrics, and that’s a big part of why the students are so passionate about the cause.
The Loyola Fair Trade committee began about a year ago after Kracht taught a Global Awareness class, which introduced students to social justice issues, including the principles of fair trade.
Students interested in incorporating fair trade products and education into Loyola began giving classroom presentations, selling Valentine-grams with fair trade chocolate and selling fair trade products at school, including the popular chocolate bars.
Eventually, the students hope to incorporate fair trade products throughout the school, including produce at lunch to sports equipment on the fields. And they hope to take their campaign into the Mankato community, which, in October, became the first city in Minnesota and the 25th in the nation to formally declare itself a Fair Trade Town.
“We want to make it bigger than the school,” Lee said.
Kracht said she’s encouraging graduating seniors to begin or get involved in Fair Trade programs at the colleges they attend. And the committee is always reaching out to the younger students at Loyola to get them involved.
“Our best key is to get to these younger students,” Kracht said, adding that the littler kids help encourage their parents to buy fair trade products at the grocery store.
The other two schools in the country to gain Fair Trade recognition are Emma Willard High School in Troy, N.Y., and Penncrest High School in Media, Penn.
For more information, visit loyolacatholicschool.org/loyola-life/fair-trade.
The school will be hosting a World Fair Trade event 1-4 p.m. Saturday at Pub 500. The event will feature area artists, musicians, information booths and a silent auction.