Cold facts: Farmworkers struggle to eat, pay bills after Florida freezes

Monday, December 27, 2010
By Paul Martin


IMMOKALEE — Since freezes began decimating Florida crops, life has been a struggle for Maria Gabriela Chaires and her family.

Her 17-year-old son asked if he should drop out of high school and get a job, but she won’t let him.

Chaires, 37, and her 77-year-old mother, Juana Galvan, work in Immokalee’s packing houses and they, like many other farmworkers, have been dealing with drastically reduced hours since the cold weather hit this year, first in January and again in mid-December.

“I have three children and I am both mother and father at the same time,” Chaires said. “Right now, things are very hard. It’s especially sad because (of) Christmas … but the little money we have we have to use for things other than gifts.”

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