WIUM Tristates Public Radio

In the Shadows of the Slaughterhouse

Nov 6, 2013

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

But the frontier for these large food factories has moved as the meat industry left urban centers such as 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.

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

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, Missouri, and Garden City, Kansas.

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. 

Click here for the series, In the Shadows of the Slaughterhouse, plus other features, including a map of large slaughterhouse locations.