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Despite Essential Worker Status, Farmworkers Are Suffering Financially According to New Study

Joe Moore
Valley Public Radio


Farmworkers in the San Joaquin Valley are facing limited access to resources during the pandemic, according to the second phase of the COVID-19 Farmworker Study funded by the California Institute of Rural Studies. 

Community organizers, like Erica Fernandez Zamora, conducted 63 in-depth interviews with farmworkers across the state. Most are struggling financially. 


“Most of the farmworkers have been working throughout the pandemic to provide food for our families,” Fernandez Zamora says. “However, the same farmworkers had to portion their food or struggle to bring food to their tables.” 


She says many families lost a second income when schools closed down and parents had to stay home with their children. Getting financial assistance has been challenging, she adds.  


“We ask to expand and simplify access to income and safety net resources and services that move beyond education,” Fernandez Zamora says. “And overcome barriers for farm workers regardless of documentation status.” 


Fernandez Zamora says the state and federal government should be working closely with community organizations, which often have built trusted and established relationships with farmworkers.

Madi Bolanos covered immigration and underserved communities for KVPR from 2020-2022. Before joining the station, she interned for POLITCO in Washington D.C. where she reported on US trade and agriculture as well as indigenous women’s issues during the Canadian election. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in anthropology from San Francisco State University. Madi spent a semester studying at the Danish Media and Journalism School where she covered EU policies in Brussels and alleged police brutality at the Croatian-Serbian border.
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