Equitable Food Initiative Champions Mental Health Awareness Month This May; LeAnne Ruzzamenti, Vernon Peterson, and Janie Mann Comment



Equitable Food Initiative Champions Mental Health Awareness Month This May; LeAnne Ruzzamenti, Vernon Peterson, and Janie Mann Comment


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WASHINGTON - May is Mental Health Awareness month and Equitable Food Initiative brings solutions to the supply-side to ensure that farmworkers are given the tools they need and to highlight the importance of supportive workplace environments.

LeAnne Ruzzamenti, Director of Marketing and Communications, Equitable Food Initiative
LeAnne Ruzzamenti, Director of Marketing and Communications, Equitable Food Initiative

“Farm work is demanding, both physically and mentally,” said LeAnne R. Ruzzamenti, EFI’s Director of Marketing and Communications. “The fresh produce industry employs many migrant workers who are far from their families and familiar experiences and can experience loneliness and grief. Creating a workplace that acknowledges these challenges is the first step toward offering real solutions.”

According to a study by the North Carolina Office of Rural Health, 30 percent of farmworkers experience elevated levels of anxiety, and 40 percent report depression—rates that are significantly higher than the general population.

Equitable Food Initiative brings attention to mental health and how it affects farmworkers

As EFI explained in its release, employers who support farmworker mental health are seeing results.

Vernon Peterson, Owner, Abundant Harvest Organics
Vernon Peterson, Owner, Abundant Harvest Organics

“We believe it’s critical to look after the mental and spiritual health of our employees as much as their physical well-being,” said Vernon Peterson, Owner of Abundant Harvest Organics.

Abundant Harvest Organics, along with its marketer-shipper Homegrown Organic Farms, offers chaplain programs that provide on-site support and resources to employees.

Janie Mann, Director of Human Resources, Homegrown Organic
Janie Mann, Director of Human Resources, Homegrown Organic

“The benefits to our workers are profound,” said Janie Mann, Director of Human Resources for Homegrown Organic. “When facing personal challenges, employees might hesitate to share with peers or supervisors. Having an external source of support has proven invaluable. We’ve received constant positive feedback from employees on the chaplain programs.”

Although the month of May highlights mental health, supporting farmworkers in this way should be a year-round commitment.

Keep reading ANUK as we cover the latest in fresh produce.



Companies in this Story


Equitable Food Initiative

The Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) brings together workers, growers and retailers in the effort to produce better fruits…