The Campaign for Healthier Solutions and several other organizations are protesting against the 99 Cent Only store chain for allegedly selling products with toxic chemicals. In late September, organizers held a protest outside a Los Angeles 99 Cents Only store. The Campaign for Healthier Solutions is a non-profit organization pushing for chemical policy reforms nationwide for so-called “dollar stores” to ensure they only safe and non-toxic products for their consumers.
Jose Bravo, the National Coordinator for Healthier Solutions executive, told CALÓ NEWS that many Latino communities throughout California rely on dollar stores for affordable food products and produce because often they are the only available option for families living in low-income neighborhoods. Critics say that products with toxic chemicals can cause asthma and cancer and other ailments.
CALÓ NEWS reached out to representatives of the 99 Cents Only Store chain. They declined an interview but offered an official statement, saying that they work to ensure that their products are both safe and affordable for their consumers. In addition, they said they understand the community relies on them for groceries and take the responsibility seriously.
“We require that all of our suppliers provide us with product that meets or exceeds all applicable federal and state legal requirements,” said Katherine Lynch, the Account Coordinator for 99 Cents Only Store. “We are always willing to listen to ideas to enhance our longstanding service to our communities and appreciate the outreach from the Campaign for Healthier Solutions.”
Latino farm worker rights groups and supporters also want 99 Cent Only Stores to eliminate the use of dangerous pesticides on produce the company sells to customers.
“99 Cents Only Stores has not implemented policies to address chemicals and products, and some of these chemicals are dangerous to health,” said Bravo. “We’re urging 99 Cents Only Stores to start having a conversation with us so that they can join the chemical footprint project and start removing some chemicals from their products.”
According to Tracy Gregoire, the Healthy Children project director for the Learning Disabilities Association of America, pesticides are highly integrated within the American agriculture industry, and companies use thousands of pesticides and harsh chemicals.
“The chemical industry is very powerful, has a lot of money, and pushes back, so the bar they want for a chemical to be banned is really high,” said Gregoire. “If it can cause harm to vulnerable populations, it should be limited and banned quickly.”
Campaign for Healthier Solutions’s strategy is to protest outside of Dollar Stores, which they have issues with selling toxic chemicals and products to consumers. In addition, they also strive to buy stock of offending companies so that Latinos have a voice with shareholders.
“We’ve been at this work for about eight years, since February 4, 2015. And if it wasn’t for us putting pressure on the street, putting pressure outside of dollar stores, and at the shareholder meetings I don’t think that they would have taken this issue up,” Bravo said. “Another of their strategies is having folks throughout the U.S. send letters and emails, and postings on their social media.”
It has been working for them because they are currently in talks with 99 Cents Only about creating policies to prevent the Latino community from being exposed to harmful chemicals.
“There is no reason why children, elders, pregnant women, women, men, anybody should be exposed,” Bravo said. “We pay taxes, and at the same time, we demand that these corporations start doing what’s right.“