When farm workers across the state asked for warm coats to help them endure harsh winter conditions, organizations across Colorado joined together to make the first annual Project Protect Winter Coat Drive a huge success! When the Winter Coat Drive first began in October, we set a goal of collecting a total of 1,500 coats. Project Protect is proud to report that the generosity of Coloradans across the state led to the donation of more than 2,000!!!
Project Protect holds deep gratitude for all the amazing organizations across the state who acted as donation sites during these past few months: GoFarm, FrontLine Farming, Regis University, 23rd Avenue Church, Vineyard Church, St. Nicholas Catholic Church, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Imagen Latina Beauty Salon, Panera Bread, Santa Catarina de Siena Catholic Church, El Maizito, The Farms Grill Restaurant, One Morgan County, St. Helena Catholic Church, The Point Market, El Jacal Mexican Grill, St. Francis Catholic Church, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, Wray Supermarket, Shop-All Supermarket, El Ranchito, Valley Wide Health Systems Clinic, Lincoln Elementary School, Fellowship Credit Union, Brew Unto Others, Servicios de la Raza, Center for Health Progress, ALTITUDE Junior Aragon, Delta Health and Wellness Center, and Alpine Bank. We would like to express our special thanks to the students, parents, and staff of Park Hill Elementary as the winners of the first annual “Warm Hearts Award” for donating the most coats of any organization in Colorado! Farm workers and their families are a little warmer this year thanks to the generosity of all the partner organizations and donors across the state.
These winter coats are already being distributed to families by the Project Protect Promotora Network. Project Protect Promotores are culturally and linguistically skilled community health navigators who connected with almost 17,000 unique agricultural workers over the past two years while reducing the spread of COVID-19. Many of these talented promotores previously worked in agriculture themselves, giving them a deep understanding of the challenges faced by Spanish-speaking immigrants living in Colorado’s rural communities. In addition, more than 100,000 reported conversations with agricultural workers chronicle the broad set of needs created by an economic system that diminishes the value of their labor. Food insecurity, language barriers, and the inability to buy basic necessities lead to long term health disparities affecting both adults and children. The winter coats donated during the first annual Project Protect Winter Coat Drive represent an important step in the long-term fight to achieve health equity for these essential members of the Colorado community.
With each passing month, the costs of life’s basic necessities continue to rise. Thanks to the implementation of SB 21-087, the 2023 growing season will be the first in Colorado’s history where employers are required to pay farm workers overtime wages. But even now, premium pay only begins after an individual has worked more than 60 hours in a single week. This is just one example of the economic marginalization that traps many farm worker families in a cycle of poverty despite their essential role in Colorado’s food system. The Project Protect Promotora Network strives to correct these injustices by providing resources, facilitating access to service providers, and elevating worker voices. If you would like to stay involved in the effort to support Colorado’s farm workers, please sign up for our email list at www.projectprotectfoodsystems.org or donate here.