Farmworker Health

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Community Activists Work to Fight Obesity in the San Joaquin Valley

Farmworkers in Los Banos, CA. Many Central Valley farmworkers lack access to buy the produce they harvest. (Vinnee Tong/KQED)

Farmworkers in Los Banos, CA. Many Central Valley farmworkers lack access to buy the produce they harvest. (Vinnee Tong/KQED)

 

By Alice Daniel, California Healthline

The town of Ceres, near Modesto, is like many small towns in the San Joaquin Valley. The farmworkers who pick the fruits, nuts and vegetables or work in the canneries often don’t have convenient ways to buy the produce they harvest. The lower-income side of town doesn’t have a grocery store, but there’s plenty of fast food. Residents say the tap water is cloudy and smells funny. At the convenience store, bottled soda is cheaper than bottled water.

It’s a story that can be told time and again in the small towns and unincorporated areas that dot the eight counties that make up the San Joaquin Valley. It’s a story the advocates at the Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Project, or CCROPP, are trying to rewrite.

“We are not your typical obesity prevention program,” said Brandie Banks-Bey, with CCROPP. “We focus our efforts on environmental and policy changes that support healthy eating.”

Partnerships Address Problems Regionally

CCROPP partners with community organizations and also trains local residents to become more civically engaged through programs such as Powerful People Building Leadership for Healthy Communities. Continue reading

How to Better Protect Farmworkers from Pesticides? Bilingual Labels

By Dan Charles, NPR

(Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

(Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

Advocates for farmworkers, especially those who grow America’s leafy greens and fresh vegetables, are pushing the government to do more to protect those workers from exposure to pesticides.

A 20-year-old regulation — the Worker Protection Standard — is supposed to prevent harmful pesticide exposures on the farm. But activist groups like Farmworker Justice say it falls short, and the Environmental Protection Agency is currently working on a new version.

Pesticides carry warning labels that spell out health risks and how workers should protect themselves — but those labels are usually in English.
A new report from Farmworker Justice points out that under the current rules, farmworkers don’t get nearly as much information about hazardous chemicals they may encounter as, say, factory workers. (Industrial workers are covered by different regulations, issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.)

And then there’s the barrier of language. Pesticides carry warning labels that spell out health risks and how workers should protect themselves — but those labels are usually in English. More than 80 percent of the workers in the “salad bowls” of Salinas, Calif., or Yuma, Ariz., are Hispanic. Many have difficulty communicating in English. Continue reading

More Than Spanish: Salinas Hospital Has Extensive Interpreter Program

By Lisa Morehouse

Dr. Minerva Perez-Lopez in the neonatal intensive care unit at Natividad Medical Center in Salinas. While Perez-Lopez speaks both English and Spanish, she needs interpreter services for her indigenous Mexican patients. (Photo: Lisa Morehouse)

Dr. Minerva Perez-Lopez in the neonatal intensive care unit at Natividad Medical Center in Salinas. While Perez-Lopez speaks both English and Spanish, she needs interpreter services for her indigenous Mexican patients. (Photo: Lisa Morehouse)

Angelica Isidro is only 4’9” tall, but she has a huge presence. I was almost exhausted by her energy as she took me on a tour of her Salinas Valley town of Greenfield. With about 15,000 residents Greenfield is surrounded by fields. On the edge of town, Isidro points to one that’s been prepared for lettuce crops. Across the street, there’s another for string beans and next to that, one for spinach.

Isidro has worked in the fields for twenty years. She says she and other farmworkers work 10 hour days at $8.50 or $9 an hour. She and her fellow farmworkers have specific health concerns.

“There are some dangers of working in the fields,” she says in Spanish through an interpreter. “People can get infections, like they might get fungus in their feet and also in their bodies. And also the pesticides. Sometimes we’ll be out in the fields and close by we’ll have the airplane that’s dusting the crops. That could potentially be dangerous.” Continue reading