The COVID-19 pandemic has created tremendous global, economic and social strain. In California, one group of essential workers, often overlooked by society, is sharing the weight of this burden. Without California’s farmworkers, there would be no food on our tables, and the state’s agricultural economy would come to a halt—a great responsibility for workers who themselves face disproportionately high rates of food and housing insecurity. A new documentary, To Live for The Harvest, highlights the plight of the farmworkers during COVID-19.
“Many farm-working communities are already recognized as disadvantaged communities from a combination of economic, health, and environmental burdens… [the pandemic] further increased their vulnerability.”Max Ochoa ’14
Vice President of the Cal Bears in the Desert Alumni Chapter
The Cal Alumni Association’s Cal Bears in the Desert and Chicanx Latinx Alumni Association, Los Angeles Chapters joined forces with nonprofit filmmakers OC World to host a special screening of To Live for the Harvest. The film explores factors behind the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on farmworkers and their families through farmworkers’ first-hand stories and context from policy experts. The documentary showcases the experiences of these essential workers and calls for change post-pandemic and beyond. Dr. Christian Paiz, assistant professor of ethnic studies at UC Berkeley, featured in the film, called for changes in four key policy areas: immigration reform, adequate infrastructure and housing, healthcare, and education.
Following the screening, a panel discussion among academics, legislators, and community leaders addressed living conditions, needs for cross-sector collaboration, and policy and legal framework change, with farmworkers at the center of the conversation. The panel was moderated by filmmaker Dr. Manuel Gomez, former Vice-Chancellor of Student Affairs at UC Irvine, and featured Assemblymember Robert Rivas; Conrado E. Barzaga, CEO at Desert Healthcare District & Foundation; Melina Duarte, Founder and Principal Consultant MyDuarte Group, LLP; and Dr. Christian Paiz.