Some 189,000 restaurant-prepared fresh meals were distributed over 17 weeks between April and August thanks to a partnership between UFW Foundation and chef José Andrés World Central Kitchen in cooperation with the United Farm Workers and Cesar Chavez Foundation. Weekly meal distributions, usually numbering between 2,500 and 4,000, took place in rural communities where farm workers live and work such as Lamont, Delano, Greenfield, Salinas, Madera and Santa Rosa. Volunteers and staff handled the meal dispersals for which long lines of people in cars waited to pick up the bags as they drove by distribution sites. The Cesar Chavez Foundation’s Spanish-language radio stations helped spread the word about the meal dispersals.
Still underway is a partnership of UFW Foundation with local food banks and pantries that has already distributed more than 17,000 emergency food boxes or bags to farm workers and families in Oxnard, the Salinas area, the southern Tulare County farm towns of Farmersville, Lindsay, Goshen, and in Kern County.
“We are proud of the work we have done hand in hand with UFW, the UFW Foundation, and the farm worker communities of California to ensure families have had access to nourishing meals,” said Nate Mook, chief executive officer of World Central Kitchen. “The pandemic has laid bare so much about our country, especially just how fragile our food system is. Hopefully as we look to the future, more Americans will realize how truly essential farm workers are in keeping this system functioning.”
“While most of us shelter at home, farm workers are being disproportionately affected by the global pandemic,” said UFW Foundation executive director Diana Tellefson Torres. “We are thankful for the unwavering support World Central Kitchen provided that allowed us to give back to our communities even amidst some of the most challenging and uncertain times. While the partnership concludes today, the dangers of the novel coronavirus do not. The UFW Foundation is committed to supporting our communities with other emergency relief programs such as mask dispersal events and financial assistance.”
“While other essential workers received hazard pay for being on the frontlines of COVID-19, farm workers have received close to nothing from their employers and the federal government,” said United Farm Workers president Teresa Romero. “The UFW is honored to have been a part of this partnership to provide nourishing meals for thousands of families impacted by the pandemic.”