For over ten years, the Campesino Outreach at St. Anthony Mary Claret Parish in Fresno, California, has been providing for the needs of migrant workers in eight migrant camps in Fresno County. In English, “campesino” translates to rural or peasant farmer; living conditions in these campesino camps vary, but are often primitive and difficult. The workers come from all over Latin America—including Peru, Mexico, El Salvador, and Honduras—and from other states in the U.S. to find work to provide for their families.
Because of the seasonal nature of the agricultural work, the camps experience work stoppages between different crop seasons and other jobs that need to be done, like pruning and harvesting. During the stoppages, workers are not always able to meet their basic needs, including not even having enough food to eat. Year-round camp residents often find themselves without enough warm clothes in the winter months. And due to the physically strenuous nature of agricultural work and the absence of adequate healthcare in the camps, there is a very real need for over-the-counter medications, such as cold medicine, as well as other basic medical supplies for injuries and to prevent infections.
The Campesino Outreach tries to meet whatever needs arise in the camps. Volunteers from the parish visit the camps in teams of 2–4 people; at any given time there are usually six teams working on outreach. The teams visit each camp at least once a week for several hours, more often whenever possible. They distribute food and warm jackets to the migrant workers to ensure they can maintain a decent quality of life. They also purchase and distribute over-the-counter medications, while continuing to try to connect migrant workers with medical clinics that can help them. Unfortunately, this often becomes too expensive for the Outreach program to afford.
Without support from the Campesino Outreach, the migrant workers face the possibility of food insecurity. Fifteen percent of households in America are classified as food insecure, meaning they lack the ability to regularly obtain enough nutritious food to be healthy. This jeopardizes the development of children in these at-risk families. In communities like Fresno, where over 45% of the community’s children are living below the poverty level, programs like the Campesino Outreach provide crucial support to this very vulnerable population.
You can help purchase critical provide food, clothing, and medicine for workers in need by making a donation to tCI’s Campesino Outreach today. To learn about this program, the community it serves, and the issues it addresses, visit our Impact Blog and our Issues page.