Today we started out our morning with a walking tour of Immokalee. One of our group members said it best: “It just doesn’t feel like we’re in America anymore.” The trees are different, the horizon is different, the weather is different…but most of all, the living conditions are very, very different. Although this is my second time visiting Immokalee, the living conditions in the town continue to amaze me. Anywhere from twelve to fifteen workers crowd together to live in one tiny trailer, and pay upwards of $300 for it! That’s $1,200 a month, for workers who barely make $100 a week. To put it into perspective, the same amount per month can get you a nice three-bedroom house in the South Side of Pittsburgh. It leaves me awestruck, but more so saddened. The farmworkers that the CIW fights for are merely surviving. When I think about the less than sufficient salary that they receive for their work, paired with the disproportionately high cost of living, it’s hard to imagine anything being left over after paying for food and rent. Not to mention the regular amounts that most workers send back to families at home, or on their own spouse and children. How could anyone live that way without losing his or her drive, or just feeling completely dejected? I think that a big part of that answer lies within the work of the CIW. Two of the CIW workers, Lupé and Yaissey, explained to us that the “Penny More per Pound” premium helps to nearly double a farmworker’s weekly salary. Although a penny per pound doesn’t sound like much, to people who have next to nothing it is everything. This is why the work of the CIW and SFA is so incredibly important: it gives farmworkers to opportunity to do more than survive. It gives them the rights, means, and dignity to actually live. The Declaration of Independence states that “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are inalienable rights of every human being; joining the Fight for Fair Food and being an educated consumer can help bring these rights to the people in our own backyard. Only together can we live up to our creeds and actually be “one nation, under God” – con libertad y justicia para todos.
- Elle Antonicelli, Sophmore