85% of fruits and vegetables produced in the United States are harvested by hand.
The 17th National Farmworker Awareness Week coordinated by Student Action with Farmworkers took place during March 24-31, 2016
As it is every year, this week was very special because people across the country came together to celebrate those whose hands harvest our fruits and vegetables every day. All 43 partners in the U.S. and Canada put their time and effort into coordinating actions and events to educate their community about the issues farmworkers face and to keep alive the legacy of César Chávez.
There were over 160 events which included film screenings, marches, presentations, blogs, dances, keynote speakers, news articles, clothing drives, blood drives and much more! More than 3,900 people and counting attended events. We hope the new allies will continue to be part of the farmworker movement and support farmworker organizations as we work for better living and working conditions in the fields.
Here are a few of the highlights of the week:
We were impressed with the thoughtful articles written by college students as they reflected on the NFAW events that took place on their college campuses. Read them here: Columbia College, Guilford College, UNC Chapel Hill, NC State.
Through our daily messages, we highlighted reflections written by SAF’s Into the Fields interns who worked with farmworkers in the southeast last summer. These writings share their stories of outreach, organizing, and advocacy work, and of their hopes for change.
Using our daily messages, we hosted our traditional NFAW Photo-a-Day Instagram Challenge which allowed us to engage people into reflecting about farmworker issues. Participants had the opportunity to bring awareness to their followers about different issues affecting farmworkers– from separation of families to the broken agricultural system.
As with every year, NFAW partner Farmworker Justice provided one blog post for each day of the week of awareness to educate the public about farmworkers' current situation, policies affecting farmworkers, and hopes for the future.
Another NFAW partner, NC FIELD, highlighted current and former farmworker youth and their successes, dreams, and lessons learned. The youth were asked to share what lessons they learned from working in the fields, how their experiences influenced their future goals, what their success is now, and a positive message to other farmworker youth. These posts were published on their blog and shared on social media.
Events in local communities
NFAW partner YAYA hosted their annual soccer game with a local farmworker partner in Florida. As they put it, "The soccer game is a great opportunity for YAYAs to learn grassroots fundraising tactics and raise money for our organization as well as the one we are in partnership with. Although YAYA lost the game, everyone is a winner!"
The University of Idaho’s NFAW keynote speaker was Oscar Ramos, who was depicted on the documentary East of Salinas.
Some colleges including the University of Idaho and Rollins College participated in the Bandana Project which addresses the sexual violence and harassment many farmworker women are subjected to.
NFAW partner CATA (The Farmworker Support Committee) dedicated their radio program, Sí Se Puede, to talking about NFAW, farmworker issues, and hearing from farmworkers.
Many organizations, schools, and individuals showed their solidarity with farmworkers by participating in the nation-wide long-sleeve shirt drive coordinated by NFAW partner Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs. Different drop off locations across the U.S. contributed to the final numbers that surpassed last year’s number by collecting 8,597 shirts, 80 pairs of pants, and 80 caps that will be distributed locally and will help workers to protect from pesticide exposure and heat stress.
College students coordinated blood drives across the country as part of the National César E. Chávez Blood Drive Challenge, encouraging civic engagement in their campuses.
“It’s ironic that those who till the soil, cultivate and harvest the fruits, vegetables, and other foods that fill your tables with abundance have nothing left for themselves.” –César Chávez
Farmworker men, women and children deserve dignity and respect! We hope that you all continue to support efforts to better the working and living conditions of workers in the fields. NFAW is once a year but farmworkers work hard to feed the world every day. Let’s stand in solidarity with farmworkers every day!