Ben & Jerry's is best known for its ice cream, but the company, founded in 1978 in Burlington, Vermont, by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, has a strong social justice and activism component.
The company, which churns out ice cream with non-GMO and Fairtrade-certified ingredients whenever possible, also established the Ben & Jerry's Foundation, which supports grassroots activism and community organizing for social and environmental justice across the nation.
This month, Ben & Jerry's is partnering with two organizations to help stem Miami-Dade's "school-to-prison pipeline" by helping to increase the funding for counselors in public schools.
The ice-cream company, along with Advancement Project and the Power U Center for Social Change, is encouraging people to attend Miami-Dade's next school board meeting July 24 to prove there is power in numbers and to urge officials to increase spending for counselors. To encourage support, the Ben & Jerry's Scoop Truck will roll through Miami to hand out free ice cream. Scheduled stops include the following:
- Today, July 9, at the Historic Lyric Theater (819 NW Second Ave., Miami) from 4 to 6 p.m.
- Wednesday, July 9, at A Space Called Tribe (937 NW Third Ave., Miami) from 6 to 8 p.m.
- Wednesday, July 24, at the Miami-Dade County School Board (1450 NE Second Ave., Miami) from 6 to 9 p.m. during its school board meeting.
- Additional "pop-up" stops may be added throughout Miami.
The free ice cream, says Jabari Paul, Ben & Jerry’s U.S. Activism manager, is a good way to start a conversation about important issues. "We leverage all of our tools as a company to leverage positive social impact. Ice cream is a way of bringing people together to talk about issues. Impacting systemic change isn't easy, but ice cream is a way of bringing the community together."
Paul says Ben & Jerry's partnered with Advancement Project and the Power U Center to advocate to increase investment in mental health instead of policing public schools. "Our campaign focuses on dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline."
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Paul says that by working on reform in one of the largest school districts in the nation — Miami-Dade — Ben & Jerry's wants to encourage other metro areas to follow. "Our hope is that there will be a ripple effect across the country that will lead to safer, healthier learning environments. It's a travesty that police outnumber counselors two-to-one in many school districts."
“Police officers on campus do not make schools safer, especially for students of color,” Tyler Whittenberg of Advancement Project says. “If the school board diverts just 10 percent of its budget for policing and security and puts that money toward hiring counselors, we could start the process of transitioning from a punitive environment to one that supports our students.”
Paul encourages people to come out and learn about how to help. At each Ben & Jerry's Scoop Truck stop, volunteers from Power U will be on hand to talk about the importance of funding mental-health counselors instead of police officers in Miami-Dade schools and to encourage people to attend the school board’s public budget hearing at 6:30 July 24 at the School Board Administration Building at 1450 NE Second Ave.
Oh, and score some free ice cream in the process.