More than 1,000 farmworker families show up at food distribution event in Santa Cruz Co.

Lauren Martinez Image
Saturday, April 15, 2023
1K+ farmworker families get donated goods at Santa Cruz Co. event
More than 1,000 farmworkers and their families stood in line in downtown Watsonville for food and other resources Friday.

WATSONVILLE, Calif. (KGO) -- More than 1,000 farmworkers and their families stood in line in downtown Watsonville for food and other resources Friday.

The nonprofit Center for Farmworker Families said this free, monthly resource event lasted for five hours.

Dr. Ann Lopez, said like many nonprofits in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, they're inundated with requests to help.

"There ought to be some kind of compensation for these people or at least accountability and I'm not seeing any of that," Dr. Lopez said.

For some, farm work ends in Nov. and begins around March and April, but after months of rain and flooding from Pajaro's levee break, work hasn't even started.

ABC7 News spoke to a woman who did not want to give her name - she said since she hasn't worked since 2022, she came to this free distribution event to ask for diapers and clothes for her baby.

RELATED: CA farmworkers struggle to recover from January's devastating storms

California farmworkers are facing a slow recovery process from the damage caused by the devastating storms.

"Todavía no nos ha llamado para ingresar al trabajo," she said her boss still hasn't called them to return to work and she's unsure when she should expect that call.

Eloy Ortiz is a board member for the Center for Farmworker Families. He said close to two thousand people showed up which is the largest amount he's seen.

"It just goes to show where the community is as far as need, that 1,000 people came out to an alleyway in Watsonville to receive food and other help," Ortiz said.

Ortiz said the issue isn't that people don't want to work.

"They want to be responsible for themselves just as much as you or I do and they can't do that right now because there is no work," Ortiz said.

RELATED: CA needs more attention from federal government amid severe storm damage, Lt. Gov. says

Ortiz said for people who do not qualify for FEMA or state or city assistance they rely on small nonprofits like theirs.

"I really don't know without federal and state intervention, I'm very scared for people. People are calling me saying that they're down to their last $100 - they can't pay rent," Ortiz said.

Friday's event got so large the nonprofit will have to hold their monthly distribution event at a different location next month.

"People need a roof over their heads they will prefer paying rent to buying food and that's why they come here," Ortiz said.

For information on how to support the farming community, visit the the website for the Center for Farmworker Families here.

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