Lowrider Caravan headed to “Salad Bowl of the World” in California to bring COVID-19 affected Farmworkers much needed Food and Supplies

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The Farmworker Caravan with San Jose lowriders is headed to Salinas, California to bring agricultural workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic much needed donations.

“I would hear about all of the essential workers being praised and helped but nobody ever mentioned the farmworkers who are working to feed every single person across America”, said Tenes.

Salinas Valley in Monterey County, one of the most productive agricultural regions in California, is located 60 miles south of San Jose or Silicon Valley. It earned its nickname "Salad Bowl of the World" for the mass production of roughly 70% of the nation's lettuce as well as spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, strawberries, peppers and numerous other crops. In 2020 it’s known as the “hotbed of coronavirus.”

Agricultural workers have been ravaged by COVID-19 in Monterey County making up more than a third of confirmed COVID-19 cases, with Latinos being 84% of hospitalized cases. The death rate from COVID-19 is much higher in counties with large populations of farmworkers due to working and living conditions with multiple families in one house and an entire family living in one bedroom. At work in the fields, harvest crews work side-by-side cutting rows of vegetables, making it impossible to keep six feet apart.

This grass-roots effort to help farmworker families began when Darlene Tenes, the granddaughter of farmworkers, saw a relief drive poster on social media by Assemblymember Robert Rivas, who grew up in migrant housing. She gathered up a few friends the same day who filled their cars with donations and headed to Watsonville, CA.

“I would hear about all of the essential workers being praised and helped but nobody ever mentioned the farmworkers who are working to feed every single person across America,” said Tenes. “I just wanted to use my skills to help and give them the attention they deserved.”

With her event marketing and management background she jumped into action growing the caravan to an average of 90 vehicles and 2 or 3 commercial trucks filled with household goods and nonperishable foods such as toilet paper, diapers, beans, rice and most importantly face masks and hand sanitizers.

Since the pandemic the caravans have traveled to Salinas, San Juan Bautista, Gilroy and will be heading back to Salinas on August 8, 2020 partnering with the United Lowrider Council of San Jose and Blvd Bombs who will fill their show cars with much needed food and supplies for the farmworkers.

“Being a Chicano who was born and raised in California we all came from the fields at one time,” said David Polanco, president of the United Lowrider Council of San Jose. “Driving by the fields and seeing them hunched over in sweltering heat has humbled me and we just wanted to do what we can to help them.”

For more information on joining future caravans or donating online go to http://www.farmworkercaravan.org or call 408-280-1065.

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Julie Ramirez
@CasaQbyDarlene
since: 01/2009
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