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Farm and Food Workers Relief Initiative

student sitting at desk in front of computer having online classes
Distributing more than 88,000 COVID relief payments to farmworkers affected by the pandemic
  • Client
    National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association
  • Dates
    2022 - 2024


The COVID-19 pandemic deeply affects some essential workers.  

Several groups of essential workers, including farmworkers, meatpacking workers, and grocery store workers, were particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the virus’ negative impact on their health, many of these essential workers also incurred a range of expenses associated with efforts to prevent exposure to COVID-19 (e.g., personal protective equipment). They also may have experienced quarantines, testing, income loss, and unavailability of dependent care. In response to this crisis, the U.S. Department of Agriculture created the Farm and Food Worker Relief (FFWR) program to provide one-time $600 payments to eligible workers to help defray the costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.


NORC is helping develop a secure registration data system to distribute $600 Farm and Food Work Relief payments.

NORC at the University of Chicago is partnering with the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association (NMSHSA) to provide FFWR payments to eligible farmworkers across the country. This work is being accomplished by working with an extensive national network of 26 federally funded Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) programs and community partners. The network is facilitating the distribution of FFWR payments to farmworkers. The NMSHSA team is able to immediately reach farmworker beneficiaries who are parents of young children enrolled in MSHS programs across the country. As trusted, integral organizations within their communities, MSHS programs will also reach other farmworkers in their communities not currently served by MSHS programs.


Farmworkers get COVID-19 funds through a secure data system built by NORC.  

The NMSHSA team has developed a cost-effective, scalable process for distributing the FFWR payments under the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Farm and Food Workers Relief Initiative. More than 30,000 payments have been made to farmworkers so far. To successfully accomplish this work, NORC developed a customized, tablet-based, user-friendly farmworker registration and payment portal that facilitates the secure electronic collection of eligibility information, verification of prospective beneficiaries, reduction of duplicate payments, and distribution of $600 payment cards.  The data system minimizes the burden on prospective farmworker beneficiaries and effectively mitigates financial risk and fraud. This highly secure data system meets the federal government's stringent privacy and data security requirements to ensure that funds are distributed equitably.  Over the course of the two-year project, the NORC-NMSHSA team aims to distribute relief payments to at least 78,876 farmworkers.

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