Farm workers and the heat: ‘It isn’t easy work, it’s hard work’

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FIREBAUGH, Calif. (KGPE) – With her long sleeve shirt, gloves, and hat to protect her from the sun, Verónica Méndez Arroyo says she started her day around 5:30 a.m. weeding melons.

It’s something many may not think about in the hot temperatures, but workers are still out in the fields to ensure there are fruits and vegetables in grocery stores.

“Hot and with a lot of sweat, but all our lives we’ve been doing it,” she said.

Méndez Arroyo said she’s been working for Del Bosque Farms for nearly 20 years.

“It’s very important that people understand that people are out here braving these temperatures, doing this hard work. It isn’t easy work, it’s hard work,” said Joe Del Bosque, a farmer on the westside.

Mendez Arroyo says they fill up their water bottle and carry it with them. At the other end of the field, she says they fill it up again and then again.

She adds that the heat is especially tough on ag workers experiencing it for the first time. Nearby, there’s a mobile break room.

“They have a break in the morning, then lunch, then another break in the afternoon,” Del Bosque said.

But with the hot temperatures, Del Bosque said they’ll sometimes ask them to go home early.

“We had heard it was going to be 109, 110, and so they’re going to go home at noon today,” he said.

Because Friday could be even warmer, Del Bosque said they could cancel the day. He added that there are supervisors in the fields who are trained in heat stress prevention.

“We also keep monitoring them. Either I come out and see how they’re doing. Of course, my supervisor does that all the time,” Del Bosque said.

And the workers also look after each other.

“We have coworkers and we help each other out,” said María Dolores Villegas.

Méndez Arroyo said the work is essential for their bosses and for them because they need the work to provide for their families.

But the job they do is also essential for the community.

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