Photo courtesy of Earl Dotter/Migrant Clinicians Network
In 1962, the Migrant Health Act was signed by President John F. Kennedy authorizing the delivery of primary and supplemental healthcare services to migrant farmworkers, resulting in the Migrant Health Center program. This landmark agreement sowed the seeds for what would later become the Community Health Center Program. Today, Community Health Centers serve more than 1 million migrant and seasonal farmworkers, approximately 20% of the total estimated agricultural worker population in the United States.
All 50 states have migrant agricultural workers, and about 175 Community Health Centers receive supplemental funding to serve this special population, around 30% of whom are children. Migrant Health Centers have a strong record of providing what some see as new ideas: community health workers have been a backbone of operations for decades. Also common are food pantries, education programs, banking assistance, license/ID assistance, housing and clothing support, legal services, and recreation programs.
In 2015, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) teamed up with the National Center for Farmworker Health (NCFH) to launch the Ag Worker Access Campaign. The campaign’s goal is to develop more effective strategies to increase access to care for migrant and seasonal agricultural workers and their families. Migrant Health Program grantees are critical to ensuring access to quality primary and preventive care for patients who might otherwise go without.
Consider these resources and ideas in recognition of Agricultural Worker Health Center Day:
- Share NACHC’s blog about the history of Agricultural Workers in the Health Center Movement.
- Host a mobile health screening event with partners in your community to reach agricultural workers onsite at their workplaces.
- Visit the Ag Worker Access Campaign website for resources and tools to learn more about serving this special population.