Every day of your life, you eat something, whether it be in the cafeteria, the grill or Cheez-Its from Harris Teeter. While most know that food is vital to life, many do not know where it comes from and who cultivates it.
National Farmworkers Awareness Week seeks to inform people of this. Over the past week, many farms, organizations and schools attempted to educate and honor these farmworkers.
“This year, HUG continues with the legacy of last year’s group, joining colleges and organizations celebrating the legacy of the farmworkers justice movement,” said Assistant Director & Latino Community Coordinator Irving Zavaleta Jimenez ‘08. “HUG leadership wanted to bring to light issues faced by workers in the field from housing to working conditions to wages and child labor.”
With the issues of farmworkers’ conditions being a national one, Hispanos Unidos de Guilford worked this year to bring awareness to the campus of Guilford College.
“I think it is important for all of us to know where our food is coming from and the conditions in which it is collected,” said sophomore Isabel Gutierrez. “The conditions in which farmworkers live and work are inhumane, and this is unacceptable.”
HUG planned several events that took place over the course of the week. On Monday, they held the Cesar Chavez banquet, Chavez being an esteemed farmworkers’ advocate. This was followed by multiple events, such as a tour of the Guilford farm, a movie showing and farmworkers jeopardy.
“A highlight of this year was the trip to the Guilford farm to learn about how the farm operates,” said Jimenez. “We’re lucky to have one on campus. Although the conditions are different than (on the farms) we try to educate (about), we can reflect on the hard work it takes for food to be in our plates.”
With the audience for the events and initiatives the HUG students were taking, they hoped to reach out and affect an even larger base of people on campus.
“Our immediate goals with these events are to bring awareness to the student body here on campus,” said Gutierrez. “We want to inspire our fellow students to take action and join initiatives that speak to them, so we can all collectively work to change this.”
With so many people lacking the understanding of the plight of farmworkers, it was of top priority to start bridging the gap between the two groups.
“I feel if we can build a better consciousness among students, even from going to the farm and knowing where the food in the cafeteria is coming from, we can possibly connect students with even larger organizations,” said junior Danewrys Tejeda, member of HUG. “(It will help in) creating a better unity between farmworkers and students.”
However, the week was not only composed of the events but of the efforts to spur people to further action.
“We hope that Guilford students not only learn about the issues farmworkers face, but they join the farmworkers justice movement,” said Jimenez. “Being aware is the first step, and I want to encourage everyone to be involved in this cause.”
HUG has various ways that interested students can continue to be involved. Currently, they are boycotting Wendy’s. The corporation rejected the Fair Food Program and instead instituted their own Supplier Code of Conduct that contained no voice of the workers. Also, HUG is promoting the Deferred Action for Parents of American, DAPA, petition that helps keep together farmworkers and their families.
“Together we will be stronger,” said Gutierrez. “Working with organizations like SAF and participating in their internships and programs will help us move forward. Also (students should be) looking for local causes that you identify with, such as the Wendy’s boycott.
“Even though standing outside of a fast food restaurant might not feel like much, you can find strength in numbers and you are creating awareness in the Greensboro community and slowly getting bigger and bigger.”
The HUG club continues to work toward an awareness of and for farmworkers and invites anyone who wishes to join them in their advocacy to get in touch.
“Getting the knowledge out there about how much we depend on farmworkers is really important,” said Tejeda.