Shortly after World War I, North Dakota became the summer home for many migrant families.
The sugar beet industry in ND in part, became successful because of the efforts of these hard-working migratory agricultural workers who tended the land side-by-side with local sugar beet farmers. Many of these migrant families came back to the same farms year after year and became life-long friends with the farm families.
While there are much fewer migratory workers across North Dakota in 2023, Cassie Scheiman is no stranger to the rich agricultural history of North Dakota. Cassie is a traditional migrant worker, a descendant of many generations of migrant farm workers. She knows that farms in ND typically have 3 weeks of harvest. Prior to working here, Cassie and her four adult siblings took on seasonal work together in Idaho.
We had the opportunity to meet Cassie and her 3-year-old son, Joshua, while at the Lisbon Food Pantry. Joshua happily waited alongside his mother and her 72-year-old aunt, Elochia, for their turn to see what foods were available for their meals throughout the coming week. Despite the wait, Joshua was so excited to play with the toys provided in the waiting area.
Elochia reminisced about her own time as a migratory ag worker starting at the age of 13.
Fresh produce was readily available upon entering the pantry, prompting Cassie to sigh in relief. At home, Joshua’s five siblings range in age from 5 to 15. “They eat us out of the house!” Cassie laughs as she bags up a few items. “Food is so expensive being here in North Dakota.” She says, more reserved. With a growing family like theirs, the six children can need 1-2 gallons of juice per day. Knowing the limitations she faces even with SNAP assistance, Cassie does her best to provide her growing family with the fuel they need with the assistance of vital resources like the Lisbon Food Pantry.
Cassie Scheiman shops for fresh produce during a recent trip to the Lisbon Food Pantry, supplied by the Great Plains Food Bank. The food pantry has become a needed resource for Cassie and her six children.