BOISE, Idaho — Despite the heat, smoke, bad weather, and the continued stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic, Idaho's agricultural workers still have to head outdoors to perform their jobs and get food on dinner plates around the state.
Now, local nonprofits are working to send a message of gratitude and recognition to those workers.
Temperatures soured to extremes this summer, creating dangerous conditions for farmworkers toiling under the hot sun. According to the National Weather Service, in the U.S., extreme heat kills more people each year than floods, hurricanes, and tornados.
The Idaho Immigrant Resource Alliance, a group formed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and made up of nine local nonprofit organizations, is stepping up in an effort to provide relief to those workers. The group has raised more than $11,000 so far, putting the funds towards bottled water, Gatorade, shirts, hats, cooling towels, and other necessities.
The alliance is continuing to accept donations through its fundraising site.
"As temperatures begin to rise to record numbers many of us are looking for cover in our air conditioned homes and offices," the group posted on the donation page. "The people that feed us day in and day out do not have that option. Idaho's farmworkers are working in 100+ degree heat and through thick smoke to feed our nation."
Irene Ruiz, who serves as the bilingual community coordinator for the IIRA, said the community has a responsibility to Idaho's agricultural workers.
“We want to make sure we are taking care of those who are putting food on our table," she said.
The IIRA has also put up a billboard dedicated to thanking farmworkers in Nampa along Caldwell Boulevard.
“Gracias a Nuestros Trabajadores Esenciales,” the sign proclaims: Thank you to our Essential Workers.
Ruiz said the billboard is intended to honor farmworkers, who often "not given the recognition they deserve."
“I think that we should be thanking our farmworkers for the work that they are doing, especially through the pandemic," she said. "They were out there working in the fields making sure they were providing for the county.”
To donate to the fund, click here.
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