Taking time to give thanks

A volunteer helps fill bags with food at the Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project. After the meeting, more than 200 families who work on the farm fields in Ventura County will take home the donated food.

I’ve been doing research on farm workers and pesticides for an upcoming story and was recently introduced to a non-profit organization, Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project. The organization focuses on the needs of indigenous farm workers from Oaxaca, a southern Mexican state. Because they speak mainly their own Mixteco language, it’s easy to discriminate against them.

I recently spent a few hours at a meeting, where the founder, Sandra Young, oversaw not only an H1N1 vaccination clinic, but also food distribution. Hundreds of people — mainly women and their children — were lined up for hours prior to the meeting to be one of the lucky 200 or so families to receive a bag of food that held rice, beans, flour, oil and canned fruit juice. Another bag, filled with produce, had bananas, onions, cucumber, oranges and tomatoes.

A volunteer at the Mixteco/Indigena Community Project fills a bag of food for Oaxacan farm workers in Ventura County. Photos by Denise Vastola

It’s ironic that the same, small group of people who work in fields, harvesting crops capable of feeding so many, must get a portion of their own source of nourishment from a non-profit organization that distributes food only once a month.

On Thanksgiving, I am thankful that I not only have all the food I need, but I am most thankful for the chance I have to write about Sandra Young, Donna Foster, Arcenio Lopez and the volunteers who help the people who work so hard to harvest crops in Ventura County.


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