How the Family Members of Meat Plant Workers in Nebraska Became Advocates Amid Pandemic (VIDEO)

Aug 13, 2020
4:24 PM
Originally published at Latino USA

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic, meatpacking plant workers were some of the hardest hit. In late April, as thousands of workers —many of whom were Latino— were testing positive for COVID-19, President Donald Trump ordered that plants stay open fearing a nationwide food shortage.

In the town of Lincoln, Nebraska, family members began advocating for workers of one specific plant, Smithfield Foods, located in a nearby town of Crete.

“When we heard about those first cases, it was very like ‘it’s here it’s real,” said Maira Mendez, whose parents worked at the plant. Together, she and other family members organized by taking to the streets to protest, dubbing themselves “The Children of Smithfield.”

“The main reason why I’m out here is because of my parents and the rest of my family that works on Smithfield. We kind of just started posting on social media [saying] ‘show up’ ‘bring your signs,’” Mendez said.

This short video by Mary Anne Andrei and Esther Honig for the Food & Environment Reporting Network, follows this story. This was produced in conjunction with a long-form podcast on Latino USA, available here:


Latino USA with Maria Hinojosa, produced by Futuro Media, is the longest-running Latino-focused program on U.S. public media.