Protecting Those Who Feed America: Coachella County Vaccinates Farmworkers

Protecting Those Who Feed America: Coachella County Vaccinates Farmworkers


Protecting Those Who Feed America: Coachella County Vaccinates Farmworkers

By Susan MacLaury

There’s very welcome news out of Coachella Valley, CA, one of the most important agricultural areas in the country and now the first county in the US to bring the COVID-19 vaccine directly to farmworkers. This is a huge development for those who feed America, especially since it’s available to all, regardless of whether they’re documented. It ensures that workers who might otherwise not have been able to schedule appointments, or travel to keep them, will be safe. To date, thousands have been vaccinated at pop-up vaccination sites in this effort co-hosted by food growers and the local health department.

Traditionally, those who lack citizenship have been fearful of applying for any type of US governmental programs. The vaccination program, which began in January, took months of planning and community organizing to assuage fears among workers both about the vaccine’s effects as well as possible legal consequences of being vaccinated. It’s being hosted by local growers and the county health department.

This move is essential as in some areas of the US more than 40% of farm workers have tested positive for the virus. A recent study by Purdue University found that more than 500,000 have tested positive and 9,000+ have died.

These are the families we documented in The Harvest (La Cosecha) in 2010 with the support of executive producer Eva Longoria. Just today, one such young worker, Gianna Nino, is the subject of our “Shining a Light” series.

We are proud to add our voices to those who publicize the sacrifices made by hundreds of thousands of migrant working families who labor under harsh conditions for little pay, suffering the effects of pesticides, farm injuries, extreme weather, and very poor living conditions, often also worrying about possible arrest and deportation. Here’s to Coachella County and the hope that many other local governments will follow their example.

Susan MacLaury
Executive Director and Co-Founder of Shine Global




General Motors joined Eva Longoria to screen The Harvest/La Cosecha in DC

General Motors sponsored a screening of THE HARVEST/LA COSECHA with Executive Producer Eva Longoria in Washington DC June 16th

General Motors sponsored a screening of THE HARVEST/LA COSECHA with Executive Producer Eva Longoria in Washington DC June 16th

General Motors supported Shine Global and the child migrant farm working community by sponsoring a screening of The Harvest/La Cosecha in Washington, DC.  The event was hosted at the Capitol Visitors last Thursday, June 16th, by Eva Longoria, Shine Global, and GM.  GM’s support of the screening enabled Shine Global to show The Harvest/La Cosecha to members of Congress and their staff and aides as well as key activists and political organizers to illustrate the lives of the child farmworkers in the US who work to feed us all.  Earlier in the day, Eva Longoria joined Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard and other activists for children’s rights to introduce the CARE Act , which aims to raise the minimum age for children working in agriculture and offer them more protections than they have under the Federal Labor Standards Act of 1938.

Roybal-Allard joined Eva Longoria at the screening and spoke again about the need to provide greater protection for farmworker children.  “I simply do not believe that our child labor laws reflect how we as Americans value our children,” she said.  Dolores Huerta, the co-founder of United Farm Workers of America and activist for farmworkers’ rights, also attended the screening.  She has worked tirelessly to ensure that all farmworkers have rights and was brought to tears by the film.

General Motors is committed to building a healthy global community. The GM Foundation focuses on four key areas: education, health and human services, environment and energy, and community development. The foundation consistently serves as a leader in educational support within corporate giving programs. In health and human services, they provide support in research, prevention, and treatment of various conditions. In the area of environment and energy, the GM foundation is dedicated to providing support to organizations that aid in the protection of human health, natural resources, and the global environment. Within community development, the GMF supports programs that strengthen community awareness and improvement.

Their combined efforts within these four areas work towards the broader goal of building a healthy global community. The foundation works not just in the US but globally, funding programs in over 200 countries around the world. The diversity of their commitment allows the foundation to do make remarkable gains for humanity in a broad array of issues.

Shine Global would like to thank General Motors for their support of The Harvest/La Cosecha and the rights of child farmworkers.

Directed by the acclaimed director and human rights activist U. Roberto Romano, The Harvest/La Cosecha will be coming to theaters in New York and Los Angeles this summer and 30 other communities for special one-night screenings.  Please contact us if you’d like your community to be on of them!

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Eva Longoria and Congresswoman Lucille Roybal Allard Introduce CARE act to protect child farmworkers in the US

Eva Longoria, Executive Producer of the documentary THE HARVEST/LA COSECHA, at a press conference with Direcotr U Roberto Romano and Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard

Eva Longoria, Executive Producer of the documentary THE HARVEST/LA COSECHA, at a press conference with Director U Roberto Romano and Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard to introduce the CARE Act to protect child farmworkers

Capitol Hill, Washington– At a press conference on Capitol Hill Thursday, June 16th, Actor and Activist Eva Longoria and Shine Global joined Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-34) and other child advocates in announcing the introduction of “The Children’s Act for Responsible Employment” (CARE), legislation which ensures adequate protections for children working in our nation’s agricultural fields.

“Agriculture is the only industry governed by labor laws that allow children as young as 12 to work with virtually no restrictions on the number of hours they spend in the fields outside of the school day,” Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard said.  “Tragically, unable to keep up with the competing demands of long work hours in the fields and school, a recent report found that child farmworkers drop out of school at four times the national dropout rate – slamming the door shut on the very pathway that could one day help them escape a lifetime of unrelenting work harvesting our crops.  I simply do not believe that our child labor laws reflect how we as Americans value our children.”

Exposing the hardships of child farmworkers, THE HARVEST/LA COSECHA, a new film by Shine Global, U. Roberto Romano and Executive Producer Eva Longoria, examines the day-to-day lives of child migrant laborers.  The film tells the stories of three adolescents who travel with their families across thousands of miles to pick crops in southern Texas, northern Michigan and northern Florida during the harvest season.  Along the way, they face back breaking labor in 100-degree heat, physical hazards from pesticides, the emotional burden of helping their families through economic crises when work opportunities dry up, separation from their families and peer groups and dwindling hope for their educational and economic advancement. The events surrounding the introduction of CARE also featured a special same-day screening of the documentary on Capitol Hill.  The film will be released theatrically in Los Angeles and in New York in July, along with special screenings in 30 cities nationally, and it will premier on Epix TV October 5th.

“I applaud Eva Longoria, Robin Romano and Shine Global for using the power of film to expose the plight of child farmworkers in The Harvest/La Cosecha.  As this film documents, children in agriculture too often work in dangerous and exploitive conditions, which are illegal in every other industry,” Congresswoman Roybal-Allard said.  “I commend them for their work to shed light on the lives of these children and for their dedication to passing the CARE Act, which would end this unacceptable double standard in our nation’s child labor laws.”

Actor, activist, and philanthropist Eva Longoria said, “I want to commend Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard for her leadership in Congress on the CARE Act.  Using my voice to help Shine Global and U. Roberto (Robin) Romano raise awareness about the plight of farmworker children in agriculture has been an incredible honor. This has been one of the most important issues I have had the opportunity to work on.”

“Very few of us understand the true cost of the produce that we buy in grocery stores every day,” said Susan MacLaury, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Shine Global.  “While we only pay 80 cents a pound for tomatoes, the child who may have picked them has paid with his or her future.”

Albie Hecht, Co-Founder of Shine Global and Chairman of the Shine Global Board of Directors, said, “Kids who work all day in fields, and have to move every six months to follow the harvest, don’t focus on school.  Their friendships suffer. Their physical health suffers.  It is very hard for them to grow and develop, and many give up on life dreams or career ambitions.  All they see is the harvest.”

While retaining current exemptions for family farms, the CARE Act would bring age and work hour standards for children in agriculture up to the standards for children working in all other industries.  That would mean, under CARE, that teenagers would be required to be at least 14 years of age to work in agriculture and at least 18 years of age to perform particularly hazardous work.

In addition to addressing the age and hour requirements for child farmworkers, CARE addresses several other problem areas:

•    To serve as a stronger deterrent for employers who violate child labor laws, the bill establishes a minimum penalty for child labor violations and increases the maximum civil monetary penalties from $11,000 to $15,000.  The bill also imposes a criminal penalty of up to 5 years imprisonment for willful or repeat violations that lead to the death or serious injury of a child worker.

•    To provide children with greater protections, CARE raises the labor standards for pesticide exposure to the levels currently enforced by the EPA.

In addition to Eva Longoria and Congresswoman Roybal-Allard, speakers at the press conference included: Thomas A. Saenz, President & General Counsel, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF); Antonia Cortese, Secretary-Treasurer of the American Federation of Teachers and co-chair of the Child Labor Coalition; Reid Maki, Coordinator of the Child Labor Coalition who released the National Consumers League’s results of a consumer survey on attitudes about child labor in agriculture; and Norma Flores López, Director of the Children in the Fields Campaign at the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP), and a former child migrant farmworker.
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The Harvest/La Cosecha wins Outstanding Filmmaker Award at San Antonio Film Festival!

San Antonio Film awardThe Harvest/La Cosecha won the Outstanding Filmmaker Award at the San Antonio Film Festival last night.  The documentary follows 3 of the estimated 400,000 children who leave behind their homes, friends, and schools to migrate from state to state and crop to crop picking the food we all eat–all without the protection of child labor laws.

Director U. Roberto Romano began filming The Harvest/La Cosecha in 2007 and spent the ensuing years traveling over 75,000 miles through 24 states filming and meeting farmworkers families.  His commitment to the cause of helping migrant child farmworkers, who lack the protections all other American children enjoy,  shine brightly in this film about their lives and their struggle to help their families survive.

Shine Global would like to thank everyone who made this film possible including our many supporters.

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