Ingrid Hoffman is shining a spotlight on the “humans who feed us.”
Justice For Migrant Women has launched a national campaign entitled “The Humans Who Feed Us” in partnership with the 56-year-old Colombian chef, television personality and restaurateur and other chefs, restaurants and universities across the country.
The project humanizes workers throughout the food supply chain; highlighting the interdependence between companies, the workers they employ and consumers; and fosters a sense of belonging for these amazing community members in the places where they live and work.
In its second phase, the “The Humans Who Feed Us” portrait exhibition will expand to be displayed in places where food is served and sold in the United States, from restaurants to universities.
As we move into the season for great meals and celebrations in America, the project will focus on “Celebrating the human beings who feed us.”
As the project expands geographically, it will also expand to feature the unique stories of 20 members of the immigrant community employed in the food supply chain, including workers in the dairy, poultry, restaurant and supermarket industries, to showcase the role that each of these individuals plays in ensuring that we have the food to feed ourselves and celebrate special moments. Justice for Migrant Women is also asking the U.S Congress to pass permanent protections and a path to citizenship for essential immigrant workers.
The Migration Policy Institute shares that immigrants make up 22% of all workers in the US food industry. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, more than half of front-line meatpacking workers are immigrants. Additionally, many of the estimated 2.5-3 million farmworkers are migrants and travel to the United States on temporary work visas. Projects like these are vital to changing the narrative around immigrants in this country, many of whom are essential workers, and also to holding elected officials accountable for protecting all of our communities.
“As millions of families in the United States prepare to reunite with their loved ones during the holidays, we will honor the workers who bring food to our tables,” says Monica Ramírez, President and Founder of Justice for Migrant Women. “Thank you to all the people who tend the crops and work in the food industry so that we can eat. You belong and we will continue to fight alongside you for dignity, respect and fair working conditions. ”
Participating restaurants and universities in supporting the project will display portraits of some community members and share background information about the workers, the project, and resources on how to take action to support these workers.
Participating universities include Loyola University Chicago, The Ohio State University, Bowling Green University, and Stanford University.
In addition to Hoffman, chefs who have confirmed their participation in the project include Adrianne Calvo, Patty Jinich, Grace Ramirez and Ruffo Ibarra.
Justice for Migrant Women will enlist the support of Hoffmann to help scale the project nationally.
“Working in the culinary industry for so many years has taught me that behind every step of the food chain is a vulnerable human being at work with little or no protection,” says she Hoffmann. “My goal is to raise awareness of their plight.”
“Members of the immigrant community continue to play a critical role in introducing diverse flavors and culinary inspiration to the American palate,” said Chef Calvo, award-winning chef, author, television personality and restaurateur. “His contribution to our kitchens ranges in influence from having a hand in farming to owning and operating restaurants. There are so many invisible layers that fall under the saying “from farm to table”. Beyond nutrition, food tells a story: it is community, it is culture and it is generational. As a community of chefs, it is our job to keep this story alive. ”
The initial project was launched in August 2021 at the Sandusky County (Ohio) fair, with a focus on farm workers in Northwest Ohio. Ramírez created the narrative and portrait project in conjunction with her grant to the Butterfly Lab for Immigrant Narrative Strategy (an initiative established by Race Forward). Through an exhibition of portraits, Justice for Migrant Women highlighted the experiences of 8 farm workers by sharing with us some of the experiences they have had while working, some of the challenges they have experienced, and some of their reflections on how members of community can make them feel more connected and included in the community.
“I think it’s important for people to understand that our work and our relationship [as farmers, farm workers and consumers] is a circle of help. We help people put food on their tables through our work. Farmers and consumers help us put food on the tables of our families in Mexico through our jobs, ”said Jacobo, a farm worker who has worked in Ohio for the past five years.
Even as the food justice movement continues to grow in size and scale, the workers who help support this food system often don’t appear in the conversation. The Humans Who Feed Us seeks to focus on these workers, their stories, their contributions, and their priorities.