LOS ANGELES, CA – Acclaimed Fashion Designer Mario De La Torre has teamed up with Justice for Migrant Women, Hispanic Heritage Foundation, and National Center for Farmworker Health by launching a campaign in support of farmworkers toiling in agricultural jobs across America during COVID-19 crisis titled #Masks4Farmworkers campaign. Actor Nicholas Gonzalez from ABC’s television series The Good Doctor will serve as the main spokesperson for the effort which will include other celebrities.
There are 2-3 million farmworkers who put themselves at risk by continuing to pick, pack and plant the fruits and vegetables that families across America are depending on more than ever amid the COVID-19 crisis. Not only do farmworkers labor shoulder-to-shoulder with each other, they also can inhale pesticides or field dust, which can trigger asthma attacks and other serious respiratory problems–all of which puts them at an even greater risk during the coronavirus pandemic. De La Torre and his team of designers will be sewing tens of thousands of masks, and much more depending on funding, to protect these vital and valued members of America’s workforce and communities.
The #Masks4Farmworkers campaign is another facet of Justice for Migrant Women’s ongoing advocacy in support of farmworkers, including the Farmworker Pandemic Relief Fund that they established in conjunction with Hispanics in Philanthropy. To contribute, visit https://hipgive.org/project/farmworkers-covid-19-pandemic-relief-fund/.
“Farmworkers are the heartbeat of humanity,” said Fashion Designer Mario de la Torre. “Just like we can’t survive without our hearts and the food that nourishes us every day, we can’t survive without these heroes. Through the #Mask4Farmworkers campaign, we have an opportunity to show gratitude to farmworkers through our craft. I look forward to working in concert with other designers and sewists in this effort.”
The #Masks4Farmworkers campaign is also designed to raise the awareness and appreciation of farmworkers while mobilizing others in the fashion industry and in our communities to sew masks to protect farmworkers. To support the effort by sewing or contributing materials for masks, visit https://forms.gle/9n2mbVHJJUwyiz8j7.
The federal government has deemed farmworkers as essential workers during this time of crisis. Advocates have raised many concerns about the threat to farmworker health, given the already poor working and living conditions that exist for farmworkers across our nation. Farmworkers earn poverty wages, many live in overcrowded housing, and they often do not have required soap and water in the fields in order to wash their hands.
“Farmworkers have always been at risk of illness and harm, but that risk has increased exponentially with COVID-19,” said Mónica Ramírez, President of Justice for Migrant Women. “Their work conditions make it nearly impossible for farmworkers to be able to abide by the social distancing, handwashing and other requirements that health care professionals say are necessary to prevent the transmission of the illness. Farmworkers deserve protection along with respect and appreciation for feeding us every day.”
Advocates have raised particular concern about the well-being of migrating workers who live in labor camps and often travel in buses and vans with multiple workers. There is a fear that many workers could become sick and fear that they will not have access to the medical care that they need in order to get required treatment. Given that the overwhelming majority of farmworkers are undocumented or from mixed status families, many will not qualify for some of the most important benefits and protections being offered under the stimulus bills, including free COVID-19 testing and the stimulus checks.
“This campaign will bring critically needed resources to front line staff who are key to ensuring that farm workers continue to have access to health care services and stay abreast of information resources that can help them navigate this very complex and evolving crisis,” said Sylvia Partida, CEO of National Center for Farmworker Health.
In addition to this, limited resources and the lack of PPE for health care providers is threatening the ability for rural health clinics to provide farmworkers and their families with the health care that they need. The #Masks4Farmworkers initiative aims to ensure that the farmworkers who feed us and the health care professionals who serve them have much-needed protective wear in order to safely perform their jobs.
“All Americans should care about protecting our farmworkers,” said Antonio Tijerino, president and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation. “Every single time we take a bite of food, we should think about the importance of our farmworkers. And now we need to do our part to protect them not just from COVID-19 but from the all the risks they deal with to nobly nourish us and our families.”
About Justice for Migrant Women
Justice for Migrant Women protects and advances migrant women’s rights through education, public awareness and advocacy. Justice for Migrant Women aims to ensure that all migrant women are guaranteed human and civil rights, including the freedom of mobility, the ability to live and work with dignity, and the right to be free of threats of violence against them and their families, whether they are migrating across borders, around regions or within states. (https://justice4women.org/)
About Mario de la Torre
Born and raised on the streets of south central LA, fashion designer Mario De La Torre knows what it is to sweat and struggle for art. Imparting a brutally honest vision of hood influences, west coast appeal and Chicano culture, De La Torre approaches his designs with an open mind and the intent to empower people including artists Bebe Rexha, Ashanti, Lauren Hill, and Iggy Azelea among others. Visit www.mariodelatorre.co https://www.instagram.com/_mario_delatorrehttps://www.facebook.com/mariodelatorre.co/
About National Center for Farmworker Health
The National Center for Farmworker Health (NCFH) is a private, not-for-profit corporation located in Buda, Texas dedicated to improving the health status of farmworker families. We provide information services, training and technical assistance, and a variety of products to community and migrant health centers nationwide, as well as organizations, universities, researchers and individuals involved in farmworker health. (http://www.ncfh.org/)
About Hispanic Heritage Foundation
The Hispanic Heritage Foundation is a national nonprofit focused on education, workforce, culture and leadership. HHF is headquartered in Washington, DC, and Los Angeles with satellites in New York, Silicon Valley, and Miami. (www.HispanicHeritage.org)