The Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) announced that farmworkers across the country will be recognized with the Heroes Award during 33rd Hispanic Heritage Awards, presented by Target, on the October 6th broadcast on PBS stations and stream on PBS.org.
“It is with tremendous gratitude, pride, and admiration that we honor farmworkers with the Heroes Award this year,” said Antonio Tijerino, president and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation. “Every single time we take a bite of food, we should think about the importance of our farmworkers in our lives, especially during the COVID-19 crisis as they put themselves and their families at risk to nobly nourish our families. Their service is nothing short of heroic.”
There are 2-3 million farmworkers who put themselves at risk by continuing to pick, pack and plant the fruits and vegetables that families across America are depending on more than ever amid the pandemic. Not only do farmworkers labor shoulder-to-shoulder with each other, they also can inhale pesticides or field dust, which can trigger asthma attacks and other serious respiratory problems–all of which puts them at an even greater risk during the pandemic.
The federal government has deemed farmworkers as essential workers during this time of crisis. Advocates have raised many concerns about the threat to farmworker health, given the already poor working and living conditions that exist for farmworkers across our nation. Farmworkers earn poverty wages, many are living in overcrowded housing, and they often do not have required soap and water in the fields in order to wash their hands. Yet they continue to work on behalf of American families and businesses.
“Farmworkers have always been at risk of illness and harm, but that risk has increased exponentially with COVID-19,” said Mónica Ramírez, President of Justice for Migrant Women and one of last year’s Hispanic Heritage Award Honorees for Leadership who is helping to produce the farmworkers’ Awards segment. “Their work conditions make it nearly impossible for farmworkers to be able to abide by the social distancing, handwashing and other requirements that health care professionals say are necessary to prevent the transmission of the illness. Farmworkers deserve this prestigious recognition along with respect and appreciation for feeding us every day.”
Earlier during the pandemic, Ramirez’ and Tijerino’s organizations teamed up with Fashion-Designer Mario De La Torre and Actor Nicholas Gonzalez to create the #Masks4Farmworkers project, which has provided more than 1.2 million protective masks for farmworkers across the country.
The Hispanic Heritage Awards were created by the White House in 1987 to commemorate the establishment of Hispanic Heritage Month in America and is among the highest honors by Latinos for Latinos and supported by 40 national Hispanic-serving institutions.
In keeping with current COVID-19 mitigation guidance and with the safety of participants in mind as well as the increased impact the pandemic has had on communities of color, the Hispanic Heritage Awards and PBS broadcast will not include a live ceremony but will feature more intimately filmed performances and Honoree segments filmed on location across the United States and Latin America.