Home Precision Agriculture Remembering the Food Workers We’ve Lost to COVID-19 Part 4

Remembering the Food Workers We’ve Lost to COVID-19 Part 4


The COVID-19 pandemic has taken an incalculable toll on the meals business staff of America, from restaurant servers and meat plant staff to the farmworkers who toil in fields. In accordance to analysis from the College of California, San Francisco, meals business staff’ threat of dying went up by 40 p.c from March to October 2020. For Latinx staff, deaths elevated by 60 p.c in the sector.

On this six-part collection, we’re honoring the lives of these we now have misplaced to COVID-19. This week, we now have tributes to a former Minnesota Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture, a Walmart meat division worker and a third-generation cotton farmer.

Picture courtesy of Becky McCoy.

Anne Kanten

When the financial disaster hit farms in the Eighties, Anne Kanten couldn’t sit idly by as she watched buddies and neighbors lose their land and their livelihood. 

Kanten, whose dad and mom immigrated to the US from Norway in the Twenties, lived on a small farm in Iowa for a time, however that’s not what sparked her ardour for the farm lifestyle. That occurred when she met Chuck Kanten—a younger farmer—whereas she was pursuing an training diploma at Minnesota’s St. Olaf Faculty. She fell in love each with him and his connection to the land, and the two went on to farm sugar beets, wheat and barley on a plot of land in Milan, Minnesota—the third technology of Kanten farmers to achieve this. 

After the onset of the disaster, the couple began advocating to maintain households on their farmland who have been going through chapter. Kanten turned concerned in the American Agriculture Motion, a company that referred to as on the federal authorities to impose larger costs on a lot of crops. 

In the Eighties, Kanten was appointed as Minnesota’s Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture and helped form agricultural coverage in the state. “She wore the radical label proudly and worked her entire life to make the lives of families on the land better,” says her daughter, Becky McCoy. 

Family say she had a passionate and decided nature, and she or he poured each little bit of herself into her work, her religion and her household. Kanten taught her three youngsters the worth of exhausting work, seeing the world and spending high quality time collectively. 

“We worked hard, and we played hard, too,” says McCoy.

After contracting COVID-19, Kanten died on December 7, 2020. She was 93. She is survived by her youngsters Kent, Erik and Becky, 9 grandchildren,10 great-grandchildren and brother Gerhard Knutson. 

McCoy says her mom’s love of farming was rooted in its familial side. “The land and how important that is to families, passing it generation to generation, that family farm aspect was really important to her,” she says. Now her son Kent and his household farm the land Kanten labored along with her husband, carrying on her legacy.


Picture courtesy of Angela McMiller.

Phillip Thomas

Phillip Thomas was typically a quiet man, until you bought him speaking about sports activities. 

“He could talk for hours with my husband about sports,” says his sister Angela McMiller. “I would sit there, try to hang, then to go do something else, come back and they were still talking about sports. He was very, very knowledgeable about it.” As a life-long Chicago resident, the Bears have been Thomas’s NFL staff. 

Thomas was a loyal Walmart worker, and he labored for 9 years, most lately in the meat division. In March 2020, early in the pandemic, Thomas contracted COVID-19. After a number of days in quarantine, Thomas felt so in poor health he referred to as himself an ambulance to go to the hospital. The subsequent day, March 29, he died. He was 48. He’s survived by siblings Angela McMiller, Yolanda Jones, Micheal Thomas, Kenneth Rufus and his mom, Linda Rufus. 

The close-nit household continues to be reeling from shedding Thomas so all of a sudden. “I miss him, especially in the summertime because we used to always have barbecues at my house and he would be there all the time,” says McMiller. 

She remembers that every time she hosted a gathering, Thomas could be there. He by no means got here empty handed, and he all the time had a relaxed, comfortable demeanor, she says. Thanksgiving was particularly significant to the household. “We laughed and joked around the table, him and myself and other family, we talked to my mom on the phone and it was just good memories,” she says, recalling their final Thanksgiving collectively. 

After he died, his coworkers at Walmart created a T-shirt with Thomas’s face printed on the entrance, and so they wore them at work in his honor. 

As McMiller watched the pandemic develop, and the loss of life counts dominate the information cycle, she was struck by how impersonal it was. “I just kept hearing it and hearing it, and I just thought to myself, ‘my brother’s more than a number,’” she says. “He was a really good guy. We lost a gem when we lost him.”

Picture courtesy of Haileigh Muehlstein.

Layne Adams

Friendships have been all the time so vital for Layne Adams. 

The third-generation cotton farmer was born and raised in Ralls, Texas and had a robust connection to his area people. “He definitely made everyone feel like a friend whenever they met,” says his daughter Haileigh Muehlstein

Muehlstein remembers fondly the many hours she spent with him using round the fields in his truck. When he wasn’t tirelessly working his farm in Lubbock, Texas, he “liked to spend time with his close friends—to have a good meal and good drinks,” says Muehlstein. There may be even a drink named after him at his favourite native restaurant, The Funky Door. The Layne Adams is poured with a robust mixture of absinthe and whiskey. The restaurant added the drink to its menu in his honor after Adams died due to problems from COVID-19 on October 12, 2020. He was 49. Adams is survived by his spouse Daybreak, daughters Haileigh and Morgan and stepson Chase Epse.  

After Adams’s loss of life, greater than 70 native farmers gathered collectively to harvest all 1,400 acres of his cotton fields. “It was people that my dad grew up with, people that are in our community, who he had connections with, and they co-ordinated all of those men to come harvest the crop,” says Muehlstein. The group completed the work that will have taken Adams weeks and even months in simply 24 hours.

“It was just a really, really amazing thing that people were a part of,” Muehlstein says. “After something so tragic happening, we couldn’t have felt more love.”

In his absence, Muehlstein and her husband plan to proceed farming her father’s fields. “We’re excited to keep it going, to try and make him proud.” 



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