Last week I visited with a great group of students at Episcopal Campus Ministry (Raleigh) to talk about farmworkers, food and faith. Some students had just visited Episcopal Farmworker Ministry in Newton Grove, NC, where they had volunteered their time to visit with workers, provide clothes and other necessities, and learn about life as a farmworker in North Carolina’s fields. The visit raised many questions about the injustices in our food system and the seeming invisibility of the people who make it possible with their hard labor. Even though 85% of fruits and vegetables are picked by hand, many students remarked that they had never learned anything about farmworkers at all before getting involved with Episcopal Campus Ministry.
The more we talked, the more I was struck by the group’s interest in taking action. What can we do to really make a difference? How can we raise awareness? How can we tackle the structural injustices and reliance on cheap labor that plague our industrial food system?
These are great questions, and I’m proud to be involved with a dynamic statewide coalition that is offering some answers. The Farmworker Advocacy Network (FAN) has been working for nearly a decade to help improve living and working conditions for field and poultry workers in our state. Recently they launched a groundbreaking grassroots campaign called “Harvest of Dignity” – a campaign that is meant to help everyday North Carolinians get involved and make a difference in the lives of workers.
Do you care about farmworkers? Are you interested in learning more and taking action? Here are some ways for everyday folks to get involved:
- Submit a Photo Postcard
- Attend FAN’s Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Celebration on Nov. 1 in Raleigh – or host your own
- Check out this recent news about the NC Department of Labor, and write a Letter to the Editor
- Watch the new 30 min. documentary Harvest of Dignity
-Chris Liu-Beers, Program Associate