Nebraska’s ‘Children of Smithfield’ group earns prestigious national award

NEBRASKA — A Nebraska group fighting for the rights of meatpacking workers is being honored with a national award.

The National Education Association will honor Children of Smithfield, a Facebook group, with the César Chávez Acción y Compromiso HCR Award during a virtual ceremony next week. Lincoln teacher Maira Mendez-Rodriguez helped form the group last spring. COVID-19 cases were spiking at packing plants and she worried about her parents' safety at Smithfield Foods in Crete.

Though the Facebook group, Mendez-Rodriguez helped organize rallies and talked to public officials to encourage more safety measures at plants.

The award will be presented during the NEA Human and Civil Rights Awards virtual ceremony on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.

Children of Smithfield has already received the Nebraska State Education Association’s Great Plains Milestone Award and a congratulatory legislative resolution from the Nebraska unicameral.