'I feel safer now': City of Pharr, nonprofit LUPE vaccinates 1,000 farmworkers
The city of Pharr, along with federal, state, and nonprofit partners, hosted a vaccination clinic for an underserved but essential community on Sunday.
Farm workers have always played a critical role in our nation’s food supply—even more so during the pandemic. Most have little access to healthcare and other vital needs.
"During the pandemic, many of them have become sick, have had to rely on home remedies,” said LUPE organizer Elizabeth Rodriguez.
It’s a problem Pharr's mayor sees during his day job.
"They go to the ER really sick - uncontrolled diabetes, uncontrolled blood pressure - so in the end, we wind up paying much more,” said Dr. Ambrosio Hernandez, MD.
Benito Candanoza and his wife have made the trip north for work every summer for the last fifteen years. But none were as scary as the journey to Ohio in 2020.
"We wouldn't go out much, just to work because everything we were on lockdown,” said migrant farmer and Progreso resident Benito Candanoza. “Luckily we made the trip there and back ok.”
People like Candanoza are the reason behind the push from organizations like LUPE to vaccinate farm workers.
"As soon as the vaccines became available, we tried to prioritize farmworkers,” Rodriguez continued.
On Sunday, LUPE, the city of Pharr, and others came together to vaccinate 1,000 of those responsible for putting food on our tables.
Among those at the Pharr Events Center getting their Johnson & Johnson vaccine—Candanoza and his wife.
“I feel safer now in a time even with the pandemic still going on,” Candanoza said.
Their safety, and that of their fellow farm workers foremost on their mind as they get ready to make the 1,500 mile journey to Toledo this week.