Justice For Migrant Women recently launched the national campaign of the "The Humans Who Feed Us" project in partnership with chefs, restaurants, and universities from across the country.

The project humanizes workers across the food supply chain; shows the interdependence among businesses, the workers they employ and consumers; and fosters a sense of belonging for these incredible community members in the places where they live and work. 

Women Working
(Photo : JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

READ NEXT: Real Heroes: Mexican Farmers Work Hard To Supply Food Amid COVID-19 

In its second phase, "The Humans Who Feed Us" portrait exhibit expanded last weekend, showcasing in places where food is served and sold around the United States, from restaurants to universities. The project focused on "Celebrating The Humans Who Feed Us" as they lead into the season of big meals and celebrations in the United States.

As the project expanded geographically, it was also broadened to feature the unique stories of 20 immigrant community members employed across the food supply chain, including dairy, poultry, restaurant and grocery store workers to showcase the role each of these individual plays to ensure that we have the food to sustain ourselves and to celebrate special moments.

Justice for Migrant Women is calling on Congress to pass permanent protections and a pathway to citizenship for immigrant essential workers.

The Migration Policy Institute shares that immigrants represent 22% of all workers in the U.S. food industry. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, more than half of frontline meatpacking workers are immigrants.

Additionally, many of the estimated 2.5-3 million farmworkers are migratory and travel to the U.S. on temporary guest worker visas. Projects like these are vital to shifting the narrative around immigrants in this country, many of whom are essential workers, and holding elected officials accountable to protecting our entire communities. 

"As millions of families across the U.S. prepare to gather with their loved ones for the holidays, we will honor the workers who bring food to our tables," said Mónica Ramírez, President & Founder of Justice for Migrant Women. "Thank you to all of the individuals who tend to the crops and work across the food industry to feed us. You belong and we will keep fighting alongside you for dignity, respect and just working conditions."  

Restaurant and university partners participated in the exhibit by displaying portraits of the profiled community members, as well as sharing background information about the workers and 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, Stanford University. Chefs who participated include Adrianne Calvo, Patty Jinich, Grace Ramirez and Ruffo Ibarra.

Justice for Migrant Women counted on the support of celebrity chef, author, entrepreneur and TV personality Ingrid Hoffmann to help scale the project nationally. "Working in the food 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 to no protections," said Hoffmann. "I have made it my goal to bring awareness to their plight."

"Immigrant community members continue to play a pivotal role in introducing diverse flavors and culinary inspiration to the American palate," said Chef Adrianne Calvo, award-winning chef, author, TV personality and restaurateur. "Their contribution to our kitchens range in influence from having a hand in farming to owning and operating restaurants. There are so many unseen layers that go into the saying 'from farm to table.' Beyond nourishment, food tells a story - it's community, it's culture and it's generational.  As a chef community, it is our job to keep this story alive."

The initial project launched in August 2021 at the Sandusky County (Ohio) Fair, with a focus on farmworkers in Northwest Ohio. Ramírez created the narrative and portrait project in conjunction with her fellowship with the Butterfly Lab for Immigrant Narrative Strategy (an initiative established by Race Forward).

Through a portrait exhibit, Justice for Migrant Women highlighted the experiences of eight agricultural workers as they shared with us some of the experiences they have had while working, some of the challenges they have experienced and some of their thoughts about how community members can make them feel more connected and included in the community. 

"I think it is important that people understand that our work and our relationship [as farmers, farmworkers 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 our families' tables in Mexico through our jobs," said Jacobo, a farmworker who has worked in Ohio for the past five years. 

Even though the food justice movement continues to grow in size and scale, the workers who help to support this food system are often missing from the conversation. "The Humans Who Feed Us" seeks to center these workers, their stories, their contributions, and their priorities. 

For more information on The Humans Who Feed Us project, please visit justice4women.org and follow @mujerxsrising on social media.

READ MORE: US Recognizes the Significant Contributions of Migrant Farm Workers in the Country