Helping farmworkers in Contra Costa County

As summer is upon us, an East Bay non-profit organization is doing its part to help hardworking farmworkers beat the heat.

Hijas del Campo, which is Spanish for Daughters of the Field, serves more than 400 farmworkers and their families in Contra Costa County every month. 

It was started in 2020 by four women. As reflected in their organization’s name, all four of them are daughters of Mexican immigrant farmworkers.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, they recognized migrant farmworkers were being pushed further to the margins. 

They decided to help by traveling to farms and distributing free personal protective equipment, food, water, and other necessities directly to farmworkers.

"We have water, sweaters, and we have all of these things. Their question is ‘Well, how much?’ And we say, ‘Nothing. It’s free for you,’" said Marivel Mendoza, co-founder of Hijas del Campo.

During the hot summer season, volunteers head out to the fields. They bring water and electrolyte drink mix to help keep the farmworkers cool.

Mendoza said farmworkers are often surprised to get this much-needed help from strangers.

"People are really nervous and rightfully so. They don’t know us. They don’t know if we’re with an agency or if we’re out there to mean harm to them." Mendoza added, "So it’s a beautiful thing when people start opening up because they really see your heart is in it and wanting to help them."

The organization is also focused on helping farmworkers secure better wages and understand their workers’ rights.

Organizers say some California farmworkers aren’t paid by the hour. Instead, they’re paid for each bucket they fill with produce. This system forces workers to often miss lunches and breaks for the sake of pay.

"They think that they just need to pick buckets and work fast without taking a break to drink water. Literally time is money for them. So that break that they would take is 10 or 15 minutes that they could be filling a bucket," said Dorina Salgado-Moraida, co-founder of Hijas del Campo.

One of the biggest needs for Hijas del Campo right now is a vehicle for deliveries. To learn more about donations and volunteer opportunities, click here.