“It’s for my children that I must work, so they can eat – how else am I going to take care of them?”

From the earliest days of the pandemic, the CIW was among the first voices to sound the alarm about the overcrowded housing and dangerous working conditions that the vast majority of the country’s 2.5 million farmworkers have faced for generations, and that represented the perfect “superconductor” for the deadly COVID-19 virus.  Their circumstances presented a chilling paradox: Though their labor putting food on our tables is essential, farmworkers all too often live and work in conditions that make it hard, if not impossible, for them to provide their own families with the basic security and dignity they deserve.  And in the time of COVID, those conditions become not only a grave injustice, but a threat to the very lives of farmworkers and their families.

That’s why the Fair Food Program’s mandatory, privately-enforced protocols for COVID prevention and remediation are more important today than ever before, as the pandemic enters its most deadly phase in months ahead.

Better protections for farmworkers on Fair Food Program farms, simply put, save lives.  Donate today to help expand the Fair Food Program’s urgently-needed protections to farmworkers across the country.

In April of 2020, one of the CIW’s many co-founders, Greg Asbed, painted a vivid picture of just how dire the situation in towns like Immokalee is through a New York Times op/ed:

Their cramped living and working conditions threaten their health and the nation’s food supply.

A century ago in “The Jungle,” Upton Sinclair wrote about how the teeming tenements and meatpacking houses where workers lived and labored were perfect breeding grounds for tuberculosis as it swept the country.

Now there is a new pathogenic threat and the workers who feed us are once again in grave danger. America’s 2.5 million farmworkers are among the groups most at risk of contracting the coronavirus. And if they are at risk, our food supply may be too….

… Their dilemma is painfully simple: The two most promising measures for protecting ourselves from the virus and preventing its spread — social distancing and self-isolation — are effectively impossible in farmworker communities. There are no seats in the bus that will provide the six feet of separation necessary to ward off the killer virus. There are no empty rooms in the trailer available for a sick worker to recover in while his or her meals are left outside the door. And all the remaining preventive measures in the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention playbook — hand-washing, elbow-coughing — can only slow the virus, they can’t stop it…

The final ingredient in this recipe for an uncontrollable outbreak? Farmworkers have been designated essential workers — no food workers, no food. This puts farmworkers in an awful bind: They can’t afford to get sick by going to work, and they can’t afford to lose their jobs by not working. And so they toil, protected by little more than hope.

The message to our country’s farmworkers is unmistakable: While your labor is essential, you are expendable. That is wrong, both morally and for our nation’s food security.

We can’t treat the people who harvest our food as expendable. Like health care workers and emergency medical workers, they are putting themselves in harm’s way for the rest of us.

Today, Gloria Carrera — a farmworker in Immokalee who has not only been harvesting the nation’s food for over two decades, but has been a stalwart in the Campaign for Fair Food since it launched in 2001, joining in countless protests, rallies, and Women’s Group meetings with the CIW over the years — adds her voice to the growing chorus calling for urgently needed protections for farmworkers harvesting our food.  Alongside allies like you, she has worked hard to build the Fair Food Program that today is protecting her rights – and those of tens of thousands of other farmworkers – during the pandemic.

You can stand with Gloria today in the movement to expand the Fair Food Program’s urgently-needed protections to more farms across the nation in 2021. Click here to donate today.