Our commitment to assist agricultural workers and immigrants in rural areas as they face the many challenges of COVID-19 is truly at the core of our mission. Episcopal Farmworker Ministry is collaborating with organizations and Episcopal Churches to help farmworker families confront the many challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
North Carolina has one of the largest populations of agricultural workers in the nation. For more than 30 years, the mission of EFWM has been to respond to the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families. These values guide us today in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
EFWM has been able to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by continuing our essential programs during this crisis. We continue to:
- provide mental health services in collaboration with El Futuro, Inc. Our staff is working to schedule appointments so patients can access services via phone or videoconference.
- offer low-cost immigration services to the community. Our immigration program coordinator is meeting with clients through phone and video calls, to ensure immigration procedures are not delayed amidst the crisis.
- adapt our food distribution program to the crisis, feeding families and H2A workers in need on an individual basis and organizing food distribution events for the larger community (as of 4.21.2020 we have distributed food to 560 families).
- share information and resources about COVID-19 with the community through social media, our mass text system (with over 500 subscribers), and phone calls.
- work with other agencies to advocate for the protections and rights of agricultural workers during the pandemic. EFWM staff has submitted comments to government agencies and participated in the creation of a letter to Governor Cooper, which you can sign here. We will continue to advocate for the protections of the community at their workplace and at large. We are also organizing media events so that workers and advocates can speak in support of our collective efforts to protect the health of agricultural workers.
We also created an emergency fund for agricultural workers affected by the virus due to testing positive or because of loss of work. This fund will allow us to provide financial aid to agricultural workers and their families, as well as to buy food for our food distributions.
Like everyone else, we have had to adapt to this new reality in order to continue our work with the community.
Farmworkers and agricultural workers in the poultry, hog and other industries in Eastern North Carolina play a critical role in cultivating, packing and producing the food we eat every day. These jobs are essential since they are needed to provide food for our state and our nation; however, the risks that individuals and families face of contracting the virus are higher. EFWM is taking into consideration the many barriers farmworkers are currently facing that keep them from ensuring even the most basic of living standards and finding ways to continue serve our community.
Migrant farmworkers who travel from place to place to work in agriculture and move into temporary housing while working also pose a higher risk. In addition, many of the farmworkers are undocumented and they will not be benefiting from Federal or State aid such as unemployment. The community is really affected by this because it means that a lost workday, week or month is critical because nationally, farmworkers’ average annual income is $11,000 and for a family it is approximately $16,000.
We remain focused on the health and safety of our staff and our communities. Following regulations on social distancing, EFWM staff is working from home and taking turns to continue providing food donations to the community. We are thinking of all the farmworker families we serve, and our supporters, at this difficult time.
We need your support, especially during these difficult times. Please keep our community in your prayers. To make a donation or to become a sustainer please click here.
Thank you for your support!
Juan, Lucia, Luis, Maria & Lariza
Click here to learn more about organizations and businesses who support our efforts!