Feeding The Front Lines
Feeding Our Farmworkers
The Corona Virus Crisis has underscored more than ever the importance and value that farmworkers represent in Ventura County. Farming and farm-dependent businesses provide an estimated 43,000 jobs in the County, generating $2.2 billion in revenue and $76 million in indirect business taxes annually. One in 10 county residents rely to some degree on income derived from farming.
The impact farmworkers have in our economy and the job they are performing during COVID19 contribute mightily to our collective well-being. They are as important and essential as the job other first responders are performing to save lives during this pandemic. Regrettably, there is little acknowledgement of the vital role farmworkers have played historically and certainly during this unprecedented COVID 19 pandemic.
For this reason, a group of business owners and community leaders from Ventura County have joined forces to provide food, support and recognition to the thousands of farmworkers providing essential duties during COVID19 in Ventura County.
Feeding the Front Lines seeks “to feed those who feed us” by visiting farms during business hours to provide lunch or dinner for free to farmworkers, as well as providing boxes of essential products and healthy boxed food to those who have not stopped their duties while the rest of Ventura County residents have to stay at home.
“Imagine that you don’t have hand sanitizer at home because you can’t find this product anywhere, imagine you don’t have a Costco membership to stock up on toilet paper or even have the money to be able to hoard anything! Imagine having to look over your shoulder in case ICE is in the area. Imagine you are the invisible people in your city, county, state and country, but you get up every morning to toil in the fields because you have to feed your family, pay your rent and do it everyday, whether you feel well or not. Imagine knowing you must work because you will not get unemployment benefits, a stimulus check and the president wants to cut your already low salary. Pressure, that is what our farm workers feel from sun up to sunset. Feeding our farm workers is the least we can do to recognize, appreciate, and acknowledge the work this “invisible” population justly deserves. They feed our country and the world and are the least appreciated workers in the country. The public needs to support our farm workers,” says Roberto Juarez, one of the volunteer business leaders who visited different farms to provide assistance and recognition to the farmworkers.
Since April 21st, the campaign Feeding the Front Lines has hosted a variety of actions to support and recognize thousands of farmworkers. Following the social distance rules established by the County of Ventura officials, a group of volunteers brought food trucks to provide hot meals and mariachis during farmworkers lunch break, as well as cargo trucks to provide boxes of home products, fruits, vegetables, and assistant information for farmworkers to take home to their families. Feeding the Frontlines has distributed thousands of pounds of fresh and dry food goods to farm working communities throughout Ventura County.
Volunteer Miguel Rodriguez stated, “Farmworkers are the front line that feeds our country. During the COVID-19 crisis, they have continued to work under conditions and wages that most people have avoided. We wanted to thank them by providing good food and live music as they continue with their difficult daily work. We also distributed food boxes and bags of fruit for people to take home because pantries providing meals have service hours between three and five pm, which may not be accessible for farmworkers because they are working during these hours. It is very fulfilling to be able to appreciate the workers whose dignity is reflected on the very fruit we consume.”
The idea initially came from Restaurant Owner John Hinojosa from Ruby’s restaurant and Chef Juan J. San Juan III from Gloria’s restaurant, and immediately other community leaders, volunteers and business joined forces; even owners from restaurants that are closed donated resources. Feeding the Frontlines plans to continue regular food distributions specifically for farmworkers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and possibly beyond.
Saturday, May 2nd from 11am to 2pm Feeding the Front Lines will be hosting a drive-thru food distribution at Guadalupe Church in the Colonia.