Ag partners unite to protect community
Courtesy of Jim Maxwell
Agriculture workers, including those at Agriland gather to receive COVID-19 vaccination shots at Agriland on Thursday.
Organizations across the Central Valley have been working hard to vaccinate essential agricultural workers against COVID-19.
Last Thursday, a joint vaccination event held at Agriland Farming Co. administered 450 vaccines to ag employees. The event was a success, thanks to the collaboration of the ag partners dedicated to supporting this often-underserved part of the community.
Agriland Farming Co.’s Director of Human Resources, Chris Rodriquez, helped coordinate the clinic and said the company understands the myriad of challenges that agricultural workers face in their struggle to get the vaccine. In addition to the scarcity of the vaccine, especially in rural areas, there is also the challenge of language barriers and an inherent mistrust of the health care system. Agriland is determined to break through those obstacles in order to keep their workforce and the ag community safe. “Agriland’s business philosophy centers on people and a concern for the quality of life of those who work for us,” Rodriquez said. “That reaches beyond the paycheck. It reaches into working conditions and employee personal health.”
Thus, for months the company has been working with other organizations to bring vaccines to the agricultural community.
Agriland reached out to the Madera County Farm Bureau, which represents a third of the farmers in the county. The Farm Bureau immediately stepped up to help, contacting its members and partners to get farmworkers enrolled in the clinic.
Christina Beckstead, Madera County Farm Bureau Executive Director, said that communication was the key to pulling off the event.
“During these difficult times, it is important that we work together and partner with our community to maintain the safety of all those we care for,” she said.
The Central Valley Community Foundation was also a part of the collaboration. For the last month, they’ve been finding and organizing employer hubs, locations that can host vaccination events exactly like the one on Thursday. Dedicated to keeping the employers and workers in the ag industry safe during this pandemic, the foundation was eager to take part in the clinic.
The Director of Local Philanthropy for the Foundation, Hannah Johnson, commented on the positive group effort:
“The event at Agriland is the result of what is possible when we speak up on behalf of communities that have been overlooked and work together to get them what they need.”
United Way, with Listos California, helped with the event, hosting a Health and Resource Fair outside the clinic.
The atmosphere was festive, with a live DJ, free tacos, and an MC educating everyone about the vaccination process. All who received a vaccine were offered a box of food. The fair, one of many planned around the Valley, furthered the organizations’ commitment to educate and prepare California’s most vulnerable residents for disasters, including the current pandemic.
Rico Peralta, the Director of Program and Training for United Way Fresno and Madera Counties, worked the event.
“Farmworkers are the most essential workers we have,” he said. “They literally put the food on our tables. We want to keep them informed and empowered.”
This was the fourth vaccination clinic held at Agriland’s in-house Training and Wellness Center. 920 people have been vaccinated thus far, and with another clinic scheduled for March 26, Agriland will surpass its initial goal of vaccinating 1,000 members of the agricultural community.
“We are committed to continue to hold clinics at our facility as long as there are people in the community interested in receiving the vaccine,” Agriland CEO Jim Maxwell said.
Members of the agricultural community interested in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine may fill out a survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DG8WBVH. Ag employers may also call Agriland at 665-2100, ext. 126.