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Idaho organization collects supplies for farmworkers to beat summer heat, smoke

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Farmworkers in the Treasure Valley hold Heat and Relief Fund items from last year’s efforts. (Ricardo Godina/Idaho Immigrant Resource Alliance)

For its second year, Idaho Immigrant Resource Alliance will provide statewide heat and smoke relief supplies to farmworkers

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, she 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.”

How to help

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:

Treasure Valley

Community Council of Idaho317 Happy Day Blvd. Suite 180, Caldwell
Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Immigrant Justice Idaho3775 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

Magic Valley

Community Council of Idaho1139 Falls Ave. East Ste, B, Twin Falls
Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday

Community Council of Idaho437 E. 13th St. Burley
Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday

Southeast Idaho

Community Council of Idaho1349 Holmes Ave. Idaho Falls
Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday

Community Council of Idaho745 W. Bridge St. Ste. H Blackfoot
Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday

Northern Idaho

University of Idaho CAMP865 W. Seventh St. Moscow
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday

About the Idaho Immigrant Resource Alliance

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.