Rachel Scrudato, 2021 SAF intern
Farm Labor Organizing Committee
My name is Rachel Scrudato, and I am a junior at UNC and I have the honor of working with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) this summer.
When I think of the most joyful moments in my family, I think of food.
I think of the assembly line my family forms in the kitchen to mass-produce a feast of Italian fritals each Christmas Eve, and hear the sizzling frying oil awaiting each overstuffed dough pocket. I think of my father’s precision in making his renowned pizza every Friday, watching him rapidly scribble down notes as he analyzes how his slight alterations make each crust better than the previous. I think of rolling the sticky dough of ricotta cookies with my mother and joking about how the recipe would have yielded a dozen more if we hadn't eaten so much dough.
Memories of warmth in my family always take place around a table overflowing with food, yielding days of leftovers despite my mother saying she never makes enough. Yet despite the centrality of meals to my family, I never knew where my food came from.
Like many Americans, I was blind to farmworkers and their essential contributions until a high school history class, when we discussed the trend of exploiting different populations as cheap labor for profit. Shocked and angry, I wondered how had I not known about the humans laboring in inhumane conditions to put food on my table daily? How had I not known about the injustices facing the diverse population doing the fundamental work of sustaining our nation? While I had always viewed food as central to gatherings, I had never known of the people who are central to the food I eat.
Immediately researching all I could, I not only read about the hardships, angering injustices, and inhumane exploitation that farmworkers face, but I also encountered their years of persistent organization, resistance, and daily fights for dignity in their essential work.
As I go into this summer, I am eager to support the movement that farmworkers have courageously been leading for decades. I am eager to work with an organization that elevates workers as leaders to create lasting change. And in this fight, I hope to combat farmworker invisibility by uplifting worker voices so that they are seen, heard, and appreciated long before a high school history class.
Through orientation week, the many aspirations swirling in my mind have begun to take form at the most basic level. Fighting against the systematic efforts to silence farmworkers and maintain strategic division, there is power in hearing fellow interns raise their voices to share stories and unite for a shared vision. After meeting the incredible SAF interns and staff, I now have 27 more reasons to be committed to the farmworker movement. And I know that each individual I encounter this summer will be one more.