Art by Suzanne Roth
Feeding the Mind, Spirit, and Body of the farm-working community and our neighbors in need, through opportunities for hunger relief, education, healthcare, and spiritual growth.
Beth-El Farmworker Ministry began in 1976 when a small group of Cumberland Presbyterians rented a tiny house in Ruskin, Florida and began holding Spanish-language church services for migrant farmworkers. When the families came to worship, their many other needs were obvious: they were usually hungry, often cold in winter, some slept in cars or trucks, many could neither read nor write, and most lived in fear of deportation. In its effort to meet some of those needs, Beth-El grew.
Now legally a nonprofit corporation, Beth-El Farmworker Ministry, Inc. has a 27 acre site on U.S. Highway 301 about 20 miles south of Tampa. The Ministry serves the nearby rural population. It operates under a covenant among its governing bodies, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the Tampa Bay and Peace River Presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church (USA).
The Plight of the Farm Working Community
Migrant farmworkers are the poorest of the working poor. They brave the Florida heat to labor in extremely adverse conditions. Ninety percent are from Mexico and Central America. Some remain in one location year round (seasonal farmworkers), while others follow the crops (migrating farmworkers).
Workers generally outnumber the available jobs. Many are only able to find work an average of 30 hours per week for only 30 weeks per year, they struggle to feed themselves and their families. Most farmworkers are plagued by nutrition-related health problems: low birth-weight babies, anemia in children and diabetes and high blood pressure in adults. Housing is so scarce that it often consumes half of a family’s income. In order to survive, farmworkers crowd together in dilapidated trailers and rental units, creating adverse living conditions.
Frequent moves hinder the education of migrant children in public schools. It is also common for children, whose families remain year-round in town, to miss school to care for younger siblings so that both parents can work. Cultural and language differences make it hard to belong in North American institutions. Frustration takes its toll, many students drop out of school, limiting their chances to prosper economically.
How Do We Help?
- Every Tuesday from 7:30am to 11:30am and Wednesday from 4pm to 6pm, a Food Pantry supporting 80,000 individuals annually.
- Weekly Farm Visits on Thursdays around lunch time – We bring non-perishable food, paper goods, personal hygiene kits, and clothing to farm workers.
- Lunch at the Farms – Seasonal – Partner organizations coordinate, sponsor, and serve warm lunch to farmworkers at the fields.
Step Up for Success
- Mentorship program offered to the Beth-El community to provide support, coaching, mentoring, and scholarship opportunities to students, High School age and above, to set and achieve their personal, academic, and professional goals.
- Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA) providing migrant Head Start, and public K-8th grade public charter school.
Back to School programs providing:
- Backpacks (approximately 500 given out each year)
- School Supplies (note paper, pencils, erasers, markers etc.)
- New Shoes
Family Support and Case Management
- Bilingual Crisis Hotline – 813-773-7597
- Financial assistance for rent and utilities
- Emergency groceries
- Gas Cards
- Gift Cards for special needs
- Clothing Closet
- Farmworker Support
- On Campus Free Dental Clinic for uninsured living under poverty guidelines.
- Outdoor Spanish Worship Services Sunday mornings (9 am)
- Virtual Worship Service Wednesdays and Fridays
- Scholarships for children and teens to attend Cedarkirk Christian Camp
- Summer Vacation Bible School
Non-Discrimination Policy – This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
Beth-El Farmworker Ministry does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations.
USDA Nondiscrimination Statement
In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.
Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.
To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: How to File a Complaint, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:
- mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;
- fax: (202) 690-7442; or
- email: firstname.lastname@example.org.