Farmworkers, Healthcare Professionals, and Longshoremen
April 21, 2020 – The Port is working to keep local restaurants afloat and essentials workers fed during the COVID-19 crisis. The efforts began with the Port’s “lunch for longshoremen” program a few weeks ago, a program that provides meal vouchers to various local restaurants which are frequented by longshoremen and waterfront workers.
“We wanted to show our support for the men and women moving cargo during this difficult time, and what better way then to support local businesses in the process,” said Oxnard Harbor District Board President Jess Ramirez. To date, the “lunch for longshoremen” program has provided over 180 meals and is still in operation.
The Port’s efforts have grown to include a partnership with Feeding the Frontline, a local group of volunteers aimed to feed those working in the farms and packing facilities throughout Ventura County.
“Today, we expanded our support efforts to reach farmworkers harvesting produce around our county. It’s in these times that we feel fortunate to increase our community efforts and support those on the front lines of the pandemic response,” said Kristin Decas, CEO and Port Director. “Our Port customer Del Monte Fresh Produce has also joined the efforts donating over 10,000 pounds of pineapples and melons to the effort.”
Volunteers deliver Port bags filled with produce to farmworkers across Ventura County on Tuesday
The Feeding the Frontline efforts are following the social distance rules established by the County of Ventura officials. The group of volunteers have organized food trucks to provide hot meals during the farmworkers lunch or break, and are also providing boxes and baskets of products, fruits and vegetables to take home for their families. The farm visits include Oxnard, Camarillo, and Santa Paula regions.
Port bags filled with pineapples and melons donated from Port customer Del Monte Fresh Produce to farmworkers
“Imagine that you don’t have hand sanitizer at home because you can’t find this product anywhere; imagine that you have no childcare because schools are closed; imagine you need food for your family, but pantries providing meals have service hours only before three pm, so you cannot pick up this food because you are harvesting the food for others,” said Miguel Rodriguez, Community Outreach Manager for the Port. “These are just some of the challenges that our Ventura County farmworkers are facing every day during the COVID-19 crisis.”
The Port is also partnering with World Central Kitchen and BG’s Café to provide 200 lunches for healthcare professionals at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard this week.