Invisible No More: The Impact of COVID-19 on Essential Food Production Workers

Athena K. Ramos, Abigail E. Lowe, Jocelyn J. Herstein, Shelly Schwedhelm, Kelly K. Dineen, John J. Lowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

From the farms to the packing plants, essential workers in critical food production industries keep food on our tables while risking their and their families’ health and well-being to bring home a paycheck. They work in essential industries but are often invisible. The disparities illuminated by COVID-19 are not new. Instead, they are the result of years of inequities built into practices, policies, and systems that reinforce societal power structures. As a society, we are now at an antagonizing moment where we can change our collective trajectory to focus forward and promote equity and justice for workers in agriculture and food-related industries. To that end, we describe our experience and approach in addressing COVID-19 outbreaks in meat processing facilities, which included three pillars of action based on public health ethics and international human rights: (1) worksite prevention and control, (2) community-based prevention and control, and (3) treatment. Our approach can be translated to promote the health, safety, and well-being of the broader agricultural workforce.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Agromedicine
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Meatpacking
  • ethics
  • farmworkers
  • human rights
  • processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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