Feeding Farmworkers During Ag's Slow Season

Dec 23, 2019

Farm fields across the Central Coast are a lot less busy this time of the year. That means farmworkers aren’t getting a paycheck. An annual holiday drive aims to help with Christmas presents and food donations.

At a farmworkers’ apartment complex in Watsonville, families lined up with shopping trolleys waiting patiently for a special holiday delivery. 

Farmworkers and their families line up to receive food boxes.
Credit Michelle Loxton

A truck arrives loaded up with food. It’s part of an initiative called The Christmas Project. Former social worker Gladys Anderson started it in the 1970s.

“In the middle of the year I come to the camps and register the families. They can dream, they can wish whatever they would like to, and they will be happy with whatever we can get them,” said Anderson.  

Each family goes home with about 100 pounds of food, including a full chicken, fresh vegetables and some sparkling cider. 

Each family received about 100 pounds of food, including fresh vegetables.
Credit Michelle Loxton

Suzanne Willis, development and marketing officer at Second Harvest Food Bank, works with partners like the Salvation Army and Raley’s Food for Families, to provide these food boxes. 

“The farmworkers here in the Pajaro Valley, they're working really hard to make sure that the community, the nation is actually fed and then they're out of work. So it's really hard to make ends meet,” said Willis.

CalFire helped transport food to the farmworkers’ homes. Pajaro Dunes Fire Captain David Hermosillo says they want the community to have a different take on their services.

“See us in a non-emergency setting and get to put a face behind just seeing a fire engine all the time,” said Hermosillo.

Luis Rojelio from Pajaro Dunes Fire Station, CalFire (left), Gladys Anderson, founder of The Christmas Project (center left), David Hermosillo (center right) and Sean Murray from Pajaro Dunes Fire Station, CalFire (right).
Credit Michelle Loxton

The truck made six stops that day, visiting about 200 families in Watsonville and Aptos. 

Second Harvest Food Bank is one of KAZU’s many business supporters.