ARTICLE FROM THOMAS FULLER IN NOVEMBER 23, 2016 NYT describes poverty and malnutrion in Salinas Valley, once home to John Steinbeck, author of dustbowl classic Grapes of Wrath.
From the article:
The combination of high rents and low incomes — wages typically fall in the range of $10 to $15 an hour — leaves farmworkers with minimal and often inadequate money for food and is a contributor to the housing crisis in Salinas.
Homelessness has risen so steadily in recent years that the Salinas City Elementary School District now has a liaison for students without permanent housing.
Cheryl Camany, the school district’s homeless liaison, listed the types of dwellings where some farmworkers slept: “Tents, encampments, abandoned buildings,” she said. “They could be living in a toolshed, a chicken coop.”
Poverty and neglect among farmworkers is by no means new. Steinbeck, the valley’s most famous native son, wrote in the 1930s about the “curious attitude toward a group that makes our agriculture successful.”
“The migrants are needed, and they are hated,” he wrote, a sentiment that residents here feel has been revived with the election of Donald J. Trump as president and his promises to deport undocumented workers.
At a diabetes and nutrition awareness class held at a nursery school in King City, overweight women from farmworker families were given a barrage of statistics on the dangers of poor diets, especially those excessive in sugar.
“Two in five Americans will develop diabetes,” Lisa Rico, the instructor, told the class in Spanish. “But for us it’s one in two.”