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Two students in a “newcomer” class at Florence Wilson Elementary School in Garden City, a Somali girl (left), and a Hispanic boy. (Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media)
Two students in a “newcomer” class at Florence Wilson Elementary School in Garden City, a Somali girl (left), and a Hispanic boy. (Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media)

Shadows of the Slaughter house

 

Immigrants have always been the backbone of America’s meatpacking plants, offering upward mobility for its newcomers.

But the frontier for these large food factories has moved as the meat industry left urban centers like Chicago and Kansas City and settled its plants in small towns. Now these rural communities are struggling to provide the social services needed by a diverse population that is largely invisible to most Americans.

With support from the Institute for Justice & Journalism’s “Immigration in the Heartland” fellowship, Harvest Public Media explores this challenge through the lens of two rural communities whose children are living in the shadows of two Tyson slaughterhouses: Noel, Mo., and Garden City, Kan.

The children of these immigrant and refugee workers in the food supply chain are often hungry, lacking sufficient housing and seeking an education. Yet they see a bright future, out of the shadows and living the American Dream.