Food Justice in the News: May 2020

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I keep trying to sit down and write informative, well-researched blog posts about food justice. But other things have been eating up all my time (since When We Vanished releases in just 25 days!!!). So, instead, here are a few excellent articles that have crossed my radar recently.

Photo by Jan Kroon on Pexels

Food Chain Workers & Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic is bringing social issues like inequality and health disparities to the forefront – and these are especially apparent in our food system. Food chain workers have been deemed essential, and in many cases are required to keep going to work. Yet there has been very little enforcement of rules regarding workers’ safety. Conditions have been so bad in some places that a farmworkers’ union in Washington state recently filed a lawsuit to ensure that companies provide adequate protections for their workers.

While the Seattle area and Washington state have so far succeeded in avoiding a surge of Covid-19 cases, some fear that agricultural areas like the Yakima Valley could become new epicenters for the virus. Especially since the H-2A guest worker program, which brings hundreds of thousands of workers to the U.S. each year, is still set to continue without restriction.

And, it’s no surprise that some of the nation’s worst hot spots are meat-packing towns. Workers in meat-packing plants stand shoulder-to-shoulder all day long, but some companies didn’t provide any personal protective equipment until more than 5,000 cases had emerged among these workers.

“As a poultry line worker, you fear both losing your job as well as reporting for your job.”

Magaly Licolli, Civil Eats

But let’s end on a positive note! This article profiles several amazing farmers in South Seattle who strive to heal long-standing wounds by growing food. Their work really drives home how therapeutic it can be to cultivate the land – both for individuals, and for entire communities.

How You Can Help

If you have the means, please donate to nonprofits working on the frontlines of this crisis! A good list of suggestions can be found here (though it’s Seattle and Washington-state-centric). Food banks everywhere are extremely strained and need donations as well. You can also search for mutual aid networks in your area. These can help provide assistance to people who have been left out of federal stimulus plans and unemployment benefits.

If you have suggestions for other places to donate, or additional articles to recommend, feel free to comment below!

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