Migrant seasonal workers in agriculture at risk of food insecurity

They face living and working conditions that affect their health, such as inadequate access to food and hygiene.

Migrant seasonal workers in agriculture face living and working conditions that affect their health, such as inadequate access to food or hygiene in its preparation and preservation. For this reason, a research led from Lleida, by the GReCS research group of the Biomedical Research Institute of Lleida (IRBLleida) and the University of Lleida (UdL), highlights the need to promote food support strategies between NGOs and institutions to improve accessibility to food. Strategies such as canteens and culturally appropriate food distribution programs covered mainly by NGOs and the objective of which is to strengthen food security and promote social justice.

The research, which has been published in the journal Global Public Health, was carried out in collaboration with researchers from the Departments of Nursing and Physiotherapy and Education Sciences of the University of Lleida, the University of Almeria, the University of Murcia, the University of País Basc, and the Biobizkaia Health Research Institute.

This research has set out to explore how migrant and seasonal agricultural workers access food in Spain from the perspective of the professionals who provide support to this population. To this end, the study interviewed 92 professionals from NGOs, social and health services involved in the care of seasonal migrant workers in Catalonia, La Rioja, Murcia and Almeria. Through a reflexive qualitative analysis, three main themes were identified:

  • Dependence on NGOs and institutions for access to food, especially accentuated after the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Relevant cultural differences in diet, depending on North African or sub-Saharan origin.
  • Nutritional and other health problems related to food security, which frequently affect seasonal migrant workers.

"The professionals interviewed described the diet of these workers as based on foods with little variety, insufficient protein content and fatty products. In addition, they reported a generalized lack of hygiene in food storage and preparation," explained the first author of the article and IRBLleida researcher, Luis Alejandro Rodríguez Guerrero.

This research has been possible thanks to the funding of the grant PI20/01310 of the Instituto de Salud Carlos III (ISCIII) and the European Union for the AGROMISALUD project "Migration and agricultural work in Spain: Social and labor precariousness and health" led by Erica Briones Vozmediano.

Reference article: Rodríguez-Guerrero LA, Mateos JT, Pérez-Urdiales I, Jiménez-Lasserrotte M, González JA, Briones-Vozmediano E. Challenges faced by migrant seasonal agricultural farmworkers for food accessibility in Spain: A qualitative study. Glob Public Health. 2024 Jan;19(1):2352570. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2024.2352570. Epub 2024 May 16. PMID: 38752424.

Image of a temporary migrant population camp in Murcia