From bottled water to pop-up vaccine clinics: How four working mothers scrambled to support East Bay farm workers

(Photo: Jose Carlos Fajardo)

Ximena Perez remembers the day she was packing corn in a sweltering, east Contra Costa County packaging plant. The lamination process to seal the bags of grain made the warehouse feel like an oven.

“Sometimes the main boss pressures us to work a lot faster,” she said, “but with the heat, you just can’t.”

Then, a caravan of cars and trucks arrived, and Perez watched as women and children piled out and scrambled around the vehicles, unloading hamburgers, water and ice cold lemonade.

They were Hijas del Campo, or Daughters of the Field, a group created by four working mothers who had met in early 2020 with a shared generational history: Their parents or grandparents had toiled under the same heat as Perez to give their children a step up in the United States of America. This was their way to give back, said Marivel Mendoza, the organization’s co-founder and president.

What started as a guerrilla effort early in the pandemic to hydrate and feed farm workers grew to include rent relief, food deliveries and even pop-up vaccine clinics on farms from Pittsburg to Byron.

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