The National Center for Farmworker Health held an art exhibit at the Ben Bailey Art Building on March 31 as part of Texas A&M University-Kingsville’s presidential performing and visual arts series.
Food was offered at the receptions, but this time it stood for something symbolic, said Elizabeth Laurence, International & Multicultural Event Coordinator.
“Most of the items on the table represent the things that are brought to us by those who we honor tonight,” Laurence said. “Those who work so hard and oftentimes put themselves at risk.”
The organization is a national training and technical assistance program located in Buda. Their staff works with community and migrant health centers across the country, providing primary health services to migrant and farm workers.
“The migrant health program started in 1962 with John F. Kennedy, and it really was the beginning of the community program”, said Sylvia Partida, Chief Operations Officer for the National Center for Farmworker Health.
There was a lot of shame for the country to see how farmers were living and being treated and the lack of access to health care, Partida said.
At that time, there were few programs around the country that ended. These programs had started to serve men that were coming to do work in the United States, Partida said.
The message behind the artwork is to think about the person that picked the next strawberry or cucumber anyone eats. It was not enough for the organization to work with healthcare and provide services but they needed to make awareness to the general public of the continued need, Partida said.
Art pieces were submitted from around the nation, including Hawaii and San Antonio.
“What is it like for us to be picking our food and not thinking about what’s behind it,” Partida said.