VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. – Farming and farm-dependent businesses provide about 43,000 jobs and $2.2 billion each year in Ventura County. These farmworkers are essential employees putting their health at risk to keep food on tables. But right now, many of them need need help. That' why Feeding the Farmworkers has served over 21,000 families since April and continues to distribute free produce and household products to this community in need.
Restaurant owner and founder of Feeding the Farmworkers John Hinojosa knows farm work all too well as he grew up in a farming family.
“I know how hard it is. I know how difficult it is and what it means to work in that type of environment,” said Hinojosa.
He saw the hardships and sacrifices of field workers first-hand. His mom was the sole provider for the family and did what she could to give her kids a better life.
“Seeing her coming home from work, she would be tired covered in dirt, completely exhausted. She would say, ‘This is what it’s all about. I’m doing this for you and your brothers and sisters,’” said Hinojosa.
So, now that he is a successful restaurant owner with children of his own, he knew it was his turn to give back. He says farmworkers are essential employees out on the front lines during the pandemic, risking their lives for their families and to help the community can eat.
“As restaurant owners, we rely on the produce they pick. Anyone who has gone to a grocery store and bought oranges or lemons, needs to understand there is someone who gets up every day, early in the morning, and picks these food items,” said Hinojosa.
The founder of this initiative saw many food drives over the last few months, but didn’t find any specifically for these workers, so he set up his very first event in April serving just 300 burritos from his restaurant Ruby’s.
Now on event number 30 in Ventura County, Hinojosa knows families are still hurting, because thousands of cars continue to show up accepting the food and essential items.
“The need is still there. We still need to do it. We need to keep on going,” said Hinojosa.
The farming families may be in their cars, with their windows rolled up, and masks on, but he can still see the gracious look in their eyes.
“When you look at their eyes and you can see how they are smiling in their eyes, that makes it all worthwhile,” said Hinojosa.