Immokalee’s majority-Central American, Mexican, and Haitian farmworker community of 24,557 people produces 90% of domestic tomatoes each winter, yet socio-economic, legal, and linguistic barriers limit their access to adequate health care. The nearest hospital is 45 minutes away, and community members often lack transportation to reach clinics in town. Some migrants travel seasonally to follow the crops, and many residents live in cramped and molding trailers.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Immokalee experienced one of the highest case positivity rates in the country and disproportionate deaths. With fewer options for preventative care, residents’ conditions tied to mental health, diabetes, high blood pressure, and maternal health intensified. In response, a coalition of local organizations, including the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), Misión Peniel, Partners in Health, Healthcare Network, and the Collier County Department of Health, formed in 2020 to address the community’s holistic health needs and provide culturally and linguistically accessible outreach in resident’s neighborhoods.
This project examines how the Immokalee community has built collaborative resilience amidst compounding health inequities. From culturally relevant gardening to combat food insecurity, to knocking on neighbors' doors to share health service resources, to broadcasting information about farmworkers’ rights on the local community radio station, this tight-knit community has found creative solutions to the challenges tied to ongoing cycles of poverty and exploitation. As hurricanes pose imminent threats and Florida passes new legislation to restrict immigration, Immokalee’s network of care remains crucial to community livelihood.