Ventura County Latino and immigrant rights activists are taking action to support the region’s farm working families who continue to provide California residents with safe and healthy food options throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign, known as “Feeding the Frontline: Feeding our Farmworkers,” has launched a GoFundMe campaign to provide groceries, supplies, and even Mariachi music to workers in the fields. The all-volunteer group is seeking community support to raise $15,000, which will help cover the cost of distributing food, supplies, and public health literature to these “frontline” families. The group’s next distribution event will occur this Saturday, June 6, 2020 from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. at the Garden Acres Mutual Water Company in Oxnard, California.
“The COVID-19 pandemic underscores the value farmworkers provide our communities,” shared Roberto Juarez, CEO of Clinicas Del Camino Real, one of several organizations supporting Feeding the Frontline. “As always, these workers are operating under conditions few of us fully grasp, only they’re now doing it during a pandemic. That’s why Feeding the Frontline is committed to feeding those who feed us. Since many pantries help our community by providing food during normal business hours, our team visits local farms, as well as overlooked and underserved farm working communities, to directly provide much-needed food, supplies, and information to farmworkers while they work non-stop to feed California residents.”
Feeding the Frontline has hosted 15 events since beginning in April. The group has provided over 7,000 farmworkers and their families with 180 tons of warm meals, groceries, and personal protective equipment. Mariachi bands have even joined in on the action by serenading workers. These events have taken place in Oxnard, El Rio, Santa Paula, Saticoy, Fillmore, and Piru, garnering widespread media attention from local and national outlets including ABC 7, Univision, and Billboard. The group’s next distribution on Saturday, June 6, 2020 will take place in Nyeland Acres, a migrant neighborhood of Oxnard with approximately 920 K-12 students who receive free and reduced lunches.
Although farmworkers are more essential than ever to the community’s well-being, their contributions continue to go largely unrecognized. Ventura County’s economy and residents rely heavily on the work of farmworkers. In fact, according to the Farm Bureau of Ventura County, farming and farm-dependent businesses provide an estimated 43,000 jobs in the County, generating $2.1 billion in revenue and $76 million in indirect business taxes annually. Additionally, one in 10 county residents rely directly or indirectly on income earned from farming-related work.
The group’s efforts strike a personal chord for many volunteers whose families also work in Ventura County’s agricultural fields. “Keeping Ventura County families healthy is more important than ever before and we all want access to nutritious produce at our local grocery stores and markets,” said Richard Castaniero, a community volunteer and local educator. “But what if it was you out there picking fruit in the middle of COVID-19 while also feeling invisible in your own community? These families get up and do that every single day. They toil away in the fields with their masks wrapped around their faces, working to feed Californians. In many cases, they can’t collect unemployment benefits or a stimulus check if they get sick and many of them have relatives who have been laid off from service-sector jobs. Feeding our farmworkers and their families during this crisis is literally the least we can do. Please support our campaign.”
To donate to Feeding the Frontline’s efforts, visit https://bit.ly/frontline805. The group’s next distribution event will take place on Saturday, June 6, 2020 from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. at the Garden Acres Mutual Water Company in the Nyeland Acres neighborhood of Oxnard, California (2838 Friedrich Rd, Oxnard, CA 93036).