FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — Fresno and San Joaquin counties are the first local partners to participate in a California program to provide temporary housing to agricultural workers exposed to COVID-19, state officials announced Friday.
The program, called Housing for the Harvest, provides temporary hotel housing options for farm and food processing employees to self-isolate if they are COVID-19 positive and do not require hospitalization, or have been exposed and cannot properly self-isolate at home.
The state is securing hotel rooms in Fresno and San Joaquin counties, with local governments identifying administrators to manage the program and local community organizations to provide additional services, like meals, wellness checks and in-language assistance, said Steve Lyle, spokesman for the Department of Food and Agriculture. Local administrators will serve as a point of contact for eligible workers.
Fresno County is partnering with the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission to manage the program, while the Central Valley Community Foundation will provide additional funding for support services and outreach.
Lyle said partnerships like this are crucial to ensure needed outreach and investment in local communities.
“COVID-19 has brought to light how much we rely on our farmworkers, many of whom do not have access to basic needs to stay safe,” Emilia Reyes, CEO of the Fresno EOC. “This program will allow us to serve those that have continued to work so hard to ensure there is food in our stores and on our tables across the country,”
Ashley Swearengin, President and CEO of the Central Valley Community Foundation, said the organization is “grateful for the State’s commitment to supporting essential food workers in our communities as they labor through the harvest and beyond.”
Officials noted that personal information gathered through the process will be kept confidential.
For agricultural business on-site testing scheduling, visit www.thehealthyharvest.org.