Photo of a woman working in a field.

“I’m new here in the United States,” says Isabel*. “I didn’t know what the system was. I didn’t even know where things were. So, since [food is delivered] to our house and it is things we recognize, it makes it much easier. And besides that, with that help, well, one feels supported and accepted in the community.”

Isabel has been living in Vermont with her family for nearly three years and receives Vermont-grown, culturally relevant produce through a Vermont Foodbank CSA project—that you help support—that provides CSA shares to migrant farmworker households in Addison County and the Northeast Kingdom.

The Foodbank purchases produce from local farms that agree to grow favorite, familiar vegetables requested by recipients. The food is then delivered directly to where people live, thanks to partnerships with local organizations such as Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity, July through November.

“I really like that as part of the program [you] bring us cilantro, tomato, onion. I love it because the garlic is also very fresh…Also the epazote…Yes, there are many things that are actually quite good. And yes, I always use them,” says Isabel.

“On the occasions Ihave been here, [the delivery person] is always very friendly and he tries to explain to me what kind of each vegetable is grown which place…I don’t speak English and he doesn’t speak Spanish either, but we talk. It’s something nice and it’s inexplicable because we understand each other even though we don’t speak the same languages.

“There is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. It is a safe way [to get support].”

Home delivery of preferred foods to migrant worker households is meaningful for many reasons. Low wages and work permit rules make it difficult to afford nourishing food—especially fresh, local produce. Lack of transportation, long hours, and concern for personal safety can make it challenging to go to the grocery store. And it can be hard for people to find the types of foods they are used to cooking and eating.

“The truth, yes. It is really difficult for us to find the vegetables necessary and adequate to give a touch of flavor from my country to the food,” explains Isabel. “Last year, I remember that the gentleman came to leave me my vegetables and I was surprised because he brought me jicama. And he told me that these were cultivated here! I felt good, so happy, because it is a fruit that is very rare to find here. And he brought it to me! And then my daughters and I made jicama with a little salt, lime, tajín, and we were so happy. So the program also helps to bring us a little bit of our thing to Vermont, to our house.”

Beyond supporting neighbors’ physical and nutritional needs, ensuring access to foods people know and love is also a way to tend to one another’s emotional well-being.

“And it’s the motivation for another smile every Wednesday or Thursday that the [delivery] comes, as we are always waiting for the bag of vegetables to see what is included this week. It is positive, the impact it has had. It helps us a lot.”

Together, we can create communities more welcoming and inclusive for everyone who lives here. Let’s continue working toward a Vermont where everyone has equitable access to enough nourishing food every day.

* Isabel is a pseudonym. This interview was conducted in Spanish by Julissa Vesely, a community health worker who helps coordinate migrant farmworker participation in the Vermont Foodbank CSA project and translated by her colleague Naomi, from Migrant Health Programs with UVM Extension—thank you!Photo substituted to protect identity.

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