By: Melanie Forti, H&S Programs Director
During the month of April, we celebrate National Minority Health Month to raise awareness of the health disparities that continue to affect racial and ethnic minorities and how we can make a difference. This year’s theme is “Bridging Health Equity Across Communities“
Latinos in America is the largest minority group in Unites States, accounting for 17.1% percent of the nation’s population. The farmworker population is composed of a wide rage of minority groups. More than 89% of farmworkers are from minority groups. According to the National Agricultural Workers Survey, over 75% of the estimated 3 million agricultural workers in the U.S. are Latinos. Three out of every four are of Mexican descent. Other minority groups that work in agriculture are Puerto Ricans, Cubans and Central and South Americans as well as African Americans, Native Americans, Jamaicans, Haitians, Laotians, Thais and others.
Farmworkers are the lowest paid occupational group in the U.S., living below the poverty level. Therefore, access to health insurance is just not affordable. Rarely, farmworkers receive health coverage through their employers or through public programs. According to the 2005 National Agricultural Worker Survey, only 22% of farmworkers reported to have health insurance. Compared to other low-income population, migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families almost don’t use health care.
Migrant health centers are very important to the farmworker community. They provide the needed primary and preventative health services to farmworkers and their families. They offer services on a sliding fee scale to patients regardless of their immigration status.
Farmworkers are resilient. They overcome the strains that come with their hard labor, discrimination, poverty, health problem, and so much more. During the National Minority Health Month, we can think of ways of how to help improve farmworkers health. Creating affordable health insurance for farmworkers and their families through federal coverage program is vital. After all, without farmworkers we wouldn’t have access to the delicious food we consume daily therefore we must ensure that our nation’s farmworkers and their families stay and remain healthy and safe.