Jeff Masters Weather Blog

Idaho group helps protect farmworkers from heat and smoke » Yale Climate Connections

Being outside in the hot sun can be uncomfortable and dangerous. But some farmworkers remain in the fields, even when temperatures soar.

“If you’re not working, you’re not making money, and so then you’re not putting food on your table,” says Irene Ruiz, a former farmworker and co-founder of the Idaho Immigrant Resource Alliance, a coalition to support immigrant communities in the state.

She says many farmworkers are also exposed when wildfire smoke causes unhealthy levels of air pollution. And as the climate changes, the risks are growing.

“It’s getting hotter. We’re seeing smoke happening more often,” Ruiz says.

So two years ago, her group started a heat and smoke farmworker relief fund.

“It was just something that we felt we needed to do in order to protect those who are putting food on our tables,” she says.

The team collects donations, and then they buy and distribute drinking water, sunscreen, face masks, and other supplies to farmworkers across the state of Idaho.

Ruiz says many are appreciative of the support.

“They are so excited, and they’re so grateful that there are people out there that actually care about what they do and the work that they do for us,” Ruiz says. “They’re happy that we’re out there doing this for them.”

Reporting credit: Ethan Freedman/ChavoBart Digital Media

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