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Getting Produce to Those Who Pick It

Getting Produce to Those Who Pick It

Picture of Pauline Bartolone

A painful irony exists in California's agricultural heart: farm workers, far too often, don't have access to the fruits of their own labor.    

I thought about this irony, more than a year ago, when I first read about the massive drought relief food give-aways in the San Joaquin Valley. In recent years, demand at the food bank in Fresno County has increased four-fold. The State of California has spent millions on food aid to the region. And hunger is hitting a new set of people. 

But the recent food emergency linked to drought and recession has only made more visible an irony that already existed in America's fruit and vegetable basket. A 2007 study put out by the California Institute for Rural Studies showed that 45% of the farm workers surveyed were food insecure. The vast majority of these farm workers are Spanish-speaking immigrants.

Over the past year, I've been following stories relating to this food crisis. I've reported about the trucking in of tons of food into farming communities, about the circumstances that drove individuals to need, and about the folks who work non-stop trying to keep everyone fed.

But for my California Health Journalism Fellowship, I'm going to report on new solutions to what some call an old problem.  Despite economic hardships, there are various initiatives trying to make healthy food more accessible in the Central Valley. These projects aspire to make produce more convenient, do business differently, and educate young people.

Most of all, my radio feature for Latino USA will not just be about finding solutions to systemic food and health-related problems. It will be about creating something new with...not too much.

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