A group of central Iowa churches are doing their part to help some poor farmers get a fair market price. This effort spans the continent, as Meredith Bruns says “Our Sister Parish” works with coffee farmers in El Salvador. About five years ago the Presbyterian church in Central Iowa started a relationship with the community group and named Robert Cook, a Des Moines area minister, as their missionary. The Iowan went to Central America and helped develop the idea of selling coffee directly to consumers in Iowa, instead of going through big import companies. She says this is about “skipping the middleman” since coffee farmers get about ten cents a pound, even for coffee sold in gourmet shops for ten dollars a pound. The group pays farmers a price set at an international fair-trade price, a dollar-25 a pound. This is an Iowa project, begun by a group of Presbyterian churches hoping to help a sister parish in Central Iowa. It’s spread to Methodist and Catholic churches in central Iowa, and as word spreads, Bruns says contacts have come from other Midwestern states and as far away as New York and California. People can buy the direct-from-El-Salvador coffee at Friedrichs stores in Des Moines, place an order at “oursisterparishcoffee@yahoo-dot-com, or have their own church order in bulk and sell to church members who want to organize their own charitable effort.
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