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Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health

SWCOEH alum Bethany Boggess Alcauter, NCFH awarded large grant to support 48,000 farmworkers

HOUSTON (Dec. 15, 2022) – Bethany Boggess Alcauter, PhD, MPH, an alumnus of the SWCOEH Occupational Epidemiology doctoral program (2021), led the National Center for Farmworker Health (NCFH) to earn $36,000,000 of grant funding by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The grant will allow Dr. Alcauter and the NCFH to distribute payments of up to $600 to approximately 48,000 farmworkers across the nation to help mitigate a portion of the pandemic-related expenses farmworkers have incurred as essential workers.

Dr. Alcauter and the NCFH will partner with 24 farmworker-serving organizations across 14 states nationwide to conduct outreach, provide information on the program and assist with the application process. The 24 organizations are in 14 states and are trusted in their local communities.

“To be honest, I was pretty emotional reading through the request for proposals when it was released,” Dr. Alcauter said. “Seeing the U.S. Government decide to provide payments to farmworkers, both documented and undocumented, is a small expression of the enormous amount of gratitude we all owe farmworkers. Farmworkers are superheroes like firefighters and paramedics – they put their health and often their life on the line to ensure that Americans have enough to eat. Every day they battle heat, cold, wildfires, storms, injuries, long work hours, intense physical labor, and harsh work climates. During the pandemic, they had to add battling infectious disease transmission without the luxury of health insurance. These payments don't cover everything we as a nation owe farmworkers, but it is a small and important step.”

Dr. Alcauter is the Director of Evaluation & National Agricultural Worker Health Program at the NCFH. She joined the NCFH in March 2020 while working on her dissertation as a SWCOEH trainee. In her position, she supervises a binational team of 12 individuals.

“Dr. Boggess Alcauter and the NCFH are champions of ag workers and continue to fight for the well-being of their communities,” said Dr. Anabel Rodriguez, the Director of the SWCOEH Outreach Program. “They are the perfect example of what the intersection of community health, academia, and industry looks like. I am thrilled they were awarded this funding opportunity, and I am confident they will make tremendous impact in the livelihoods of countless ag workers and their familias.”

Funds will be distributed as soon as February or March 2023. Dr. Alcauter says a grant like this is unique in American history.

“This really is a unique opportunity! This administration is making excellent strides in encouraging the USDA and other agencies to prioritize serving vulnerable populations, including farmworkers. This project is going to be very labor intensive, but it is so exciting to be a part of this historic moment in U.S. history.” 

The SWCOEH provides a variety of graduate-level training opportunities for occupational and environmental health professionals through our industrial hygiene, occupational and environmental medicine, occupational epidemiology, and Total Worker Health®