September 19, 2021

La Semilla helps North Carolina’s Latino community with food access during COVID pandemic

RALEIGH, N.C. — At one level, Latinos accounted for 44% of COVID-19 instances in North Carolina regardless of making up about 10% of the state’s inhabitants.

The nonprofit La Semilla stepped in to assist the world’s Latino inhabitants with food and PPE distribution during the pandemic and mobilized community well being employees, or “promotoras,” to present the community important details about vaccinations and COVID-19 prevention.

The group additionally partnered with hospitals and nonprofits to offer vaccination clinics.

“The core of our work is food assistance, social support … vaccine equity, educating our community members regarding the COVID-19 vaccine and encouraging community members to receive the vaccine itself,” stated Pastor Edgar Vergara Millán, the manager director of Iglesia La Semilla. La Semilla is a co-vocational religion community of the North Carolina Convention of The United Methodist Church.

“Even to some of the community vaccination events or clinics, pop-up or mobile events, some people still have not been able to get to one of those,” he stated. “Hence, we have shifted our strategy as La Semilla to take vaccines to residential areas.”

Millán estimated that La Semilla has served about 50,000 folks with food distribution and helped some 20,000 folks get vaccinated.

“There are so many things that hit Latinos, Latinas, Latinx people harder,” stated Millán, who was born in Mexico and immigrated to the US in 2009 to attend seminary at Duke Divinity Faculty.

“I think one of the main things is that those members of our communities that do not have the documentation that allows them to receive unemployment benefits or stimulus monies or other types of support were themselves at the frontlines of essential work,” he stated. “Hence they were at higher risk, and they suffered because of that.”

He talked in regards to the origins of the identify of the church and nonprofit, which implies “the seed” in Spanish.

“La Semilla, or ‘the seed’ — which takes its name from the language the gospel uses to describe the kingdom of heaven — that is like a small seed that is planted that grows out of proportion,” he stated.

He stated he was by himself at a food distribution drive in April of 2020 ready for just a few volunteers to reach.

“Back then, there was so much food available, and there weren’t systems in place to get the food to the people,” he stated. “I was frustrated and stressed. I remember praying, ‘God, it’s time for the seed to sprout and grow. We need some help. We need some people.’ And those seeds that have been planted have germinated, sprouted and grown.”

From actors to activists, folks share tales of celebrating their heritage, expressing their identification as Latino, Latinx, or Hispanic, and representing and embracing their various cultures. Rejoice Hispanic Heritage Month with “Our America: Todos Unidos” on ABC Owned Tv Stations streaming apps and Hulu.