Ayudando Latinos A Sonar (ALAS) supports California family members and farmworkers by assisting them in responding to extreme weather conditions.
ALAS, a Latino-focused nonprofit in Half Moon Bay, California, started in 2011. The group aims to ensure families and children feel confident about their heritage and identity. It has evolved into a space for help. Families, volunteers, board, and staff are developing programs that include culturally-focused mental health services, wrap-around case management education, immigration, and social justice advocacy programs.
2023 has produced record amounts of precipitation in California, which have caused devastating floods that have affected communities and agricultural landscapes. When the first wave of floods occurred in California earlier this year, ALAS was one of the first organizations to take action.
“The sooner we can mobilize and organize and be there to help, the better the families are to endure this,” Belinda Hernandez-Arriaga, Executive Director of ALAS, says to Food Tank. “Sometimes we don’t have time to just sit and wait for the bureaucracy of other organizations to be organized and we have to be prepared. ALAS is prepared. ALAS knows how engage in the community and spread all the information out.”
ALAS has discovered that among the significant effects of flooding are the destruction’s restrictions on obtaining food. According to Hernandez-Arriaga, the group’s emergency food pantry, which started during the COVID-19 epidemic, serves the most significant number of people in its history.
Food pantries alleviate families of financial burdens Hernandez-Arriaga explains that money isn’t the only obstacle.
“One of the things we have to prepare as organizations is how we are mobilizing to support farm worker communities who might be in more remote areas,” says Hernandez-Arriaga.
She explains how the flooding caused significant road damage, which has prevented farmers from driving away from their workplaces or homes. To address the issue, ALAS has developed programs to help farm workers wherever they are.
ALAS delivers gallons of fresh water to Coastside farms weekly and works with organizations like Coastside Hope and Second Harvest Food Bank. Second Harvest Food Bank to regularly provide food items. ALAS also coordinates Farmworker Thursday, An initiative that provides meals to farmworkers on rotating Fridays. Each lunch is sponsored by various organizations that want to help the local farmers.
In 2022, at the year’s close, ALAS launched the Farmworker Equity Express Bus, the mobile center that assists farmers across the Coast.
“We really need to go where farmworkers are,” Hernandez-Arriaga says. “We have seen the isolation and the limitation they have because of their work hours and the type of work they are doing.”
The Bus is equipped with Wi-Fi laptops, teleteaching tools, telehealth mental health commissions, and arts and education resources.
The organization focuses on how the impacts of flooding will continue economically impacting farm workers’ families for a long time after the water ceases to flow. While ALAS provides emergency aid to farmers affected by the floods earlier in the season, the organization is also making these communities ready for flooding to be coming.
The International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) has released a special report to sound the alarm about the world’s food insecurity and the debt crisis. The report reveals the following: more than 349 million individuals are suffering from acute hunger, and many more are likely to suffer hunger, with prices for food remaining at historical highs, and nations cannot repay debts.
In ” Breaking the Cycle of Unsustainable Food Systems, Hunger, and Debt,” IPES-Food reveals that the COVID-19 virus and Russian invading Ukraine have contributed to the rise in food prices over the past two years.