Treasure Valley farmworkers

Farmworkers in the Treasure Valley hold Heat and Relief Fund items from last year’s efforts.

Originally published June 17 on IdahoCapitalSun.com.

Earlier this month, the Idaho Immigrant Resource Alliance announced it will conduct its second annual Heat and Smoke Relief Fund to collect supplies to help Idaho farmworkers withstand extreme heat and smoke in the summer.

With drop-off locations throughout the Treasure Valley, the resource alliance is calling for donations of items that can lessen risk of heat exposure and smoke inhalation. This includes water bottles, Gatorade and sports drinks, coolers, ice packs, bandanas, masks and sunscreen.

This year, the alliance will expand its distribution of items to farmworkers in northern Idaho in addition to southern Idaho.

While Idaho’s neighbors Oregon and Washington provide for heat and air quality protections for agricultural workers, Idaho does not share similar requirements that protect agricultural workers from intense heat and poor air quality conditions. Some of these requirements in neighboring states require that employers include paid breaks, N95 masks for poor air quality, access to shade and sufficient water.

In an interview with the resource alliance’s leadership, Irene Ruiz said that with the lack of shade in the fields, farmworkers in Idaho must rely on what they have to protect themselves through clothing, water and sunscreen.

“I am a former farmworker. I worked in the fields for about 12 years from when I was a kid until I was in my early 20s. I know what it’s like to be working out in the heat and in the smoke. Farmworkers are working with extreme heat, contaminated water, air pollution and forest fires,” Ruiz said.

Ruiz said the Heat and Smoke Relief Fund is an effort to make farmworkers feel seen.

“These are the people that put food on our tables,” Ruiz said. “We have to make sure we are protecting farmworkers and seeing them as human beings and respecting them through policy or funds like these.”

{h4 class=”editorialSubhed”}How to help{/h4}

The Idaho Immigrant Resource Alliance is collecting monetary and item donations throughout the summer. Monetary donations can be made via mail to 910 W. Main St. Ste. 316 Boise, ID 83704.

Drop-off locations for items are in the following locations:

{h3 class=”editorialSubhed”}Treasure Valley{/h3}

Community Council of Idaho

317 Happy Day Blvd. Suite 180, Caldwell

Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Immigrant Justice Idaho

3775 W. Cassia St., Boise

Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Intermountain Fair Housing Council

4696 W. Overland Rd., Ste. 140, Boise

Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Thursday

{h3 class=”editorialSubhed”}Magic Valley{/h3}

Community Council of Idaho

1139 Falls Ave. East Ste, B, Twin Falls

Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday

Community Council of Idaho

437 E. 13th St. Burley

Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday

{h3 class=”editorialSubhed”}Southeast Idaho{/h3}

Community Council of Idaho

1349 Holmes Ave. Idaho Falls

Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday

Community Council of Idaho

745 W. Bridge St. Ste. H Blackfoot

Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday

{h3 class=”editorialSubhed”}Northern Idaho{/h3}

University of Idaho CAMP

865 W. Seventh St. Moscow

Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday

{h4 class=”editorialSubhed”}About the Idaho Immigrant Resource Alliance{/h4}

The Idaho Immigrant Resource Alliance is an organization of 11 nonprofits throughout Idaho. Its mission is to “seek to provide relief and resources to our communities in Idaho in uniting our efforts by creating a new support system model.” Some of its partners include the Community Council of Idaho, ACLU Idaho, Immigrant Justice Idaho, the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, Housing Justice for All, and the United Farm Workers, among others.

The alliance began its efforts in 2020. Initially, the organization was heavily focused on providing support for the Latinx immigrant community amid the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, organizers have expanded their focus to help provide resources for the farmworking community in Idaho.

For more information, go to the Idaho Immigrant Resource Alliance’s Twitter page, @IdahoAlliance, or Instagram, id_immigrant_resource_alliance.

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