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The Poultry Plant That’s Changed the Face of This Appalachian Town

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When Sheena Van Meter graduated from Moorefield High School in 2000, her class was mainly comprised of the children of families that had long-planted roots in West Virginia’s eastern Potomac Highlands. Some were African American. Most were white. And for the Moorefield resident, the closest exposure she had to other cultures, before leaving for college, came in the form of an occasional foreign-exchange student. 

Since Van Meter returned to her alma mater in 2011, first as a behavioral specialist, then as a principal, and, now, as superintendent of Hardy County Schools, she’s witnessed the makeup of Moorefield’s classrooms change dramatically in a short amount of time. It has become a place where cultures collide, where Spanish, Burmese and English are spoken together on playgrounds, where refugee children try to regain new footing in a foreign land and where longtime residents, both students and their teachers, try to make space for change.

Hardy County’s Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Stauderman says they don’t really have a choice. “And she’s right,” Van Meter said. “We’re trying to do everything we can with the limited funding that we have.”

Over the last 10 years, Hardy County has become the most diverse school system in West Virginia. It has the highest percentage of English Learners (or “EL”), a term Hardy County Schools uses for students whose first language is not English. Of the approximately 2,300 students currently enrolled in Hardy County, 15 percent are considered English Learners. Every EL student in the county, except for one, attends Moorefield’s schools, which has become one of the strongest and rare examples of cohesion and integration between varying ethnic groups within a community that has been slow and sometimes non-reactive in embracing its newcomers.

Families are immigrating to Moorefield, some under refugee status, from around the world, coming from countries like Myanmar (formerly Burma), Vietnam, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Guatemala and others. Today, 18 different languages are spoken in Hardy County Schools. 

This swift change is not because Moorefield has found a new, successful campaign for combating West Virginia’s declining and aging population. It hasn’t declared itself an asylum city. But instead, it sits at the center of West Virginia’s poultry industry. And in Moorefield, you don’t have to look far to explain how a town of less than 2,500 has become one of the most diverse places per capita in the state. 

Just follow the 18-wheelers driving past the high school, hauling live chickens down Moorefield’s Main Street. They’ll lead you to the answer.  


Depending on the way the wind’s blowing, it can be hard to forget there’s a chicken plant in the center of town. 

Built along a bend in the South Branch of the Potomac River, Pilgrim’s Pride houses three plants situated together within Moorefield’s city limits: a fresh plant, where chickens are killed and made into various cuts of meat; a prepared foods plant that turns the meat into value-added products like chicken nuggets; and a rendering plant that uses the leftover parts to make pet food and other things. Depending on the weather that day and what’s happening at the plant, the air throughout town often contains an odor that’s hard to miss, a putrid-like mixture that can make the olfactory system think of waste or death. This reporter also noticed a warm, salty seasoning smell around the prepared foods plant, similar to putting your nose in a bowl of $1 chicken-flavored ramen.

“Everybody complains about the smell,” said Amy Fabbri, an adult English as a Second Language Teacher in Moorefield. “And the response is always, ‘It’s the smell of money.’” 

If the smell doesn’t grab you, the large tractor-trailer trucks driving down Main Street, passing Moorefield’s library and shrinking downtown district, might do the trick. Or the hundreds of workers exiting doors on a shift’s change. Many cross the street in droves, walking to their cars in adjacent gravel lots. Most of the migrant workers in particular take off down the sidewalks, as many don’t own cars. At least, not yet. 


Gravel lots surround Pilgrim’s Pride property, welcoming employees who travel from surrounding counties to work at the chicken processing plant. While at the same time, many of the company’s migrant workers, who live in Moorefield, walk to work. Photo: Justin Hayhurst/100 Days in Appalachia

Pilgrim’s size and hold in the community would be similar to a coal mine in West Virginia’s Raleigh or McDowell County, back when coal was king, said Chris Claudio. He grew up in Moorefield and lives there today. More than 1,700 people work at the Pilgrim’s location. It’s the largest employer in the county and trumps the second largest, American Woodmark Corporation, by around 1,000 workers, according to Hardy County’s Development Authority. And for the 125 migrant and refugee families that have enrolled their children in Hardy County Schools, it’s the employer name almost all write on forms.  

“In coal mining communities, everyone is connected to the industry, whether you do it yourself or you have a family member or a friend [that does],” Claudio said. “That’s definitely the case in Moorefield.” 

Pilgrim’s plant in Moorefield has become fully integrated, meaning Pilgrim’s Pride maintains ownership over the entire process from chicken to egg and back again. It’s known as vertical integration, a common practice in the chicken industry, where the company even supplies the local, contract farmers with specific birds to raise and the proper feed to give them. Pilgrim’s is a supplier to giant companies including KFC, Sysco and Popeye’s. To meet demand, the plant kills an average of 450,000 chickens per day over the course of two shifts. That totals up to 2.2 million birds per week, according to a factsheet provided by the company.    

It’s a system in endless demand of workers. For the first half of this year, a large, wooden sign sat directly across the street from Pilgrim’s plant, positioned to catch motorists’ attention driving south along Main Street. In large bold letters it read: “Pilgrim’s: Now hiring. Apply within.”  

They’re always hiring. 

Poultry worker turnover ranges from 40 percent to as high as 100 percent annually, according to a 2012 report published in the Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law. If you ask local officials why Pilgrim’s has begun recruiting and hiring high volumes of migrant workers over the last 10 to 15 years, they’ll tell you it’s a basic supply and demand equation. 

“It’s not that there aren’t enough people to work,” said Mallie Combs, economic development director of Hardy County. “It’s that there aren’t enough people who want to do those jobs.” 

“I think that’s an easy answer,” said Dr. Angela Stuesse, an anthropologist who has spent years studying poultry plants’ recruitment of Latin American immigrants in Mississippi. “… to say, ‘Oh, people don’t want to do the work.” 

“Instead of asking, ‘Why is the work so poor that nobody wants to do it?’”  


When Chris Claudio attended Moorefield schools, if Pilgrim’s Pride wasn’t in the foreground — on hot days the smell from the plant seemed to travel further, he said — then it was always in the background. The company’s logo was printed on pencils he used in class. Students would show up wearing company T-shirts their parents had received. And for lunch, it didn’t matter the day, there was always a chicken option in the food line.  

Students leaving Moorefield High know if they don’t make it out of town, they always have the plant to fall back on, Claudio said. 

“It’s not comparable to a coal miner’s wage, but a decent wage without education,” Claudio said. The average yearly wage for a worker in meat, poultry or fish trimming is $27,790, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  

For many of Claudio’s peers, when they roll the Pilgrim’s hiring dice, they just hope they aren’t placed on a fresh plant line.   

In the fresh plant, where chickens are slaughtered and turned into cuts of meat, workers stand for eight hours or more in freezing conditions — low temperatures are maintained to better preserve the birds — repeating the same motions over and over again. Many are wielding knives and trying to keep up with the high-speed of the line to slice, gut or trim chickens swinging past on mechanized hooks, which can easily lead to accidents.  

“Poultry workers often endure debilitating pain in their hands, gnarled fingers, chemical burns, and respiratory problems,” according to a 2013 report by the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

The slaughtering of chickens has become more and more mechanized, which means that the human labor required to support that process has become less-skilled, monotonous motions repeated again and again. That’s the kind of job most of the migrant workers receive when they start out at Pilgrim’s in Moorefield. The majority are immediately placed on night-shift, the least desirable shift, in the freezing cold fresh plant. 

But hiring migrant workers to complete these unskilled, repetitive and grueling tasks isn’t unique to Moorefield. For more than 20 years, poultry companies across the nation have intentionally diversified their workforce, Stuesse said. 

In the chicken plants of Mississippi, which Steusse wrote about in her 2016 book “Scratching Out a Living,” Latin American migrants were recruited in the mid-1990s to work alongside African American employees at the plant. African Americans at the Mississippi plants had “amassed enough power to start forming unions and negotiating their wages,” Stuesse said, “and it was at that moment that the industry was also expanding to more shifts, and so reaching out for workers from different places met both of those needs.”

The plants at Moorefield, both the fresh plant and the prepared foods, are considered non-union facilities. One of the ways poultry companies try to keep costs low, Stuesse said, is to pay workers less.  


Located along Main Street in Moorefield, it’s impossible to miss the massive size, and sometimes smell, of Pilgrim’s presence in a town of less than 2,500 people. Photo: Justin Hayhurst/100 Days in Appalachia

“One way to pay workers less is to make sure they are not organized and able to collectively bargain with their employer to set the terms of their labor and working conditions,” she added. 

How do poultry companies ensure that workers aren’t organized? 

They hire migrants and refugees, Stuesse said, and, in doing so, can flip the construct of a working-class, racially homogenous rural town on its head. 

In response to its hiring practices, Pilgrim’s Pride said it considers the diversity of its team to be one of its greatest strengths. 

“Labor challenges exist across our industry,” the company said in a prepared statement, “and we are focused on recruiting the right candidates who will thrive in our culture and want to spend their careers with us.” 

Whether or not Moorefield’s immigrants and refugees are thriving in their new, poultry home, well, that’s a question for them.  

Part two of Remaking Moorefield, will explore how this small, West Virginia town is responding to its new, diverse neighbors. And what local folks, if any, are doing to bring people together.

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In ‘Trump Country,’ This Rural Teacher is Working to Bridge Divides Between Migrant Workers and Her Conservative Community

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Before returning to the region, Amy Fabbri said one of her biggest concerns was that there would be a lack of diversity. When she arrived in Moorefield, she found that she was surprisingly mistaken. Photo: Justin Hayhurst/100 Days in Appalachia

Two hours into Amy Fabbri’s English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) class, Marie’s exhaustion slowly began to show. First, her fingers gave her away, as she gently used them to cover her eyes, like temporary blinds. And then, later, she leaned her head into her left hand, the nearest pillow she could find, while the rest of class carried on. 

“They work all night at the factory, and then they come to English class in the morning,” Fabbri said of her students. “They are really exhausted, but they are really dedicated.”   


Students follow a full immersion approach, where Fabbri and her teaching assistant Chris Scott conduct the entire three-hour class in English. Students meet three times a week, coming to either the morning or afternoon class. Photo: Justin Hayhurst/100 Days in Appalachia

Marie, like most of her classmates, works on the night shift at Pilgrim’s Pride’s fresh food processing plant in Moorefield. There, nearly half a million chickens are slaughtered every 24 hours, according to the company’s fact sheet. Marie plays a small role in that process. In return, she receives a low, but decent-enough wage that has allowed her to start over since immigrating to the U.S. from her home country of Haiti in 2010, after a devastating earthquake killed more than 220,000 people. 

Three days a week, after she’s worked all night long, Marie chooses learning over sleep to attend Fabbri’s three-hour morning class. She walks to get there. In her 60s, Marie is one of the oldest members of the group. Sometimes her classmates are as young as 17.

She learns conversational English, how to conjugate verbs and sound out words. Marie begins her lessons every class by filling in the blanks to sentences Fabbri has written on the chalkboard. On a chilly February morning, after Marie is finished, her paper will read, “Today is Wednesday, February 27, 2019. Yesterday was Tuesday. Tomorrow will be Thursday.” 

For many of Fabbri’s students, who often arrive with little to no English, attending class isn’t about learning how to write perfect sentences. It’s about learning how to survive, how to talk with their child’s teacher or ask questions at the post office. In this rural West Virginia town of less than 2,500 residents, people moving from other countries have primarily been met with extremely limited foreign language services. It’s proven especially challenging in the court system and when parents are trying to register their children for school. But it’s not just the paperwork hurdles that make moving to a place like Moorefield, West Virginia,  hard.

After fleeing his home country of Eritrea, Ahmed worked in hotel housekeeping in Missouri before moving to Moorefield to work at Pilgrim’s Pride chicken processing plant. He’s one of more than a half a million Eritrean citizens who have fled their home country due to an oppressive authoritarian dictatorships and a mandatory, indefinite military service, which has created a generation of refugees for the small nation, population 5.3 million, located along the horn of Africa. Photo: Justin Hayhurst/100 Days in Appalachia

Within the current political climate, where the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” border enforcement has led to detention centers filled with children and has placed travel-ban restrictions on seven nations, five being majority-Muslim, both residents from Moorefield and their new neighbors are finding more reasons to stay within their own circles and little incentive for crossing ethnic and cultural boundaries.  

Thankfully, there are some folks working to bridge that divide.  


Amy Fabbri didn’t think she’d return to a place she so intentionally left. But love will make you do a lot of things. And for Fabbri it made her move back to the Moorefield and Petersburg area so her son, Caleb, didn’t have to travel so far from Maryland to see his dad. He could complete high school in West Virginia and have both of his parents in the stands to cheer him on at tennis meets.  

Returning in 2015, Fabbri found Moorefield a different place than what she’d left in the early 2000s. There was now a Burmese church, a Hispanic church and an authentic Honduran and El Salvadorian restaurant all within town limits. Driving down Main Street, Fabbri noticed there was a lot more foot and bike traffic. She noticed families walking to Walmart, which sits on the northern edge of town.  

“Moorefield people don’t walk anywhere. Everybody drives,” said Chris Claudio, who grew up in Moorefield and lives there today. “Even though our town is only a mile or two across … everybody drives.” 

Fabbri tries to adjust her teaching to all abilities, she says. She has English students who have earned advanced degrees from their home countries working alongside students who didn’t finish primary school. And all of them come to her with unique needs and reasons who wanting to improve their English.  Photo: Justin Hayhurst/100 Days in Appalachia

Fabbri observed for a while, but in 2016, after Donald Trump ran his political campaign on nativist ideology with promises of building a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border and then won the election, she was ready to take action.   

She worked with West Virginia Catholic Charities, the only refugee resettlement agency in West Virginia, and  connected with a missionary, Obed, from Puerto Rico who was sent to Moorefield to offer Bible studies, translation services and support to the town’s Hispanic population.

“During the election and right after … I said ‘I want to think of a way where I can let this community know that there are people that are really glad they are here,’” Fabbri said.   

Together, the pair began hosting a community potluck at the Moorefield Presbyterian Church as a way to bring refugee, immigrant and longtime Moorefield residents together.

“Truthfully, we didn’t get a lot of local people coming to these events,” Fabbri said. The potlucks have stopped for now. Obed returned to Puerto Rico. Fabbri began teaching English. But she still tries to use opportunities in her daily life to advocate for understanding in often simple ways, like defending a Spanish speaking family at the grocery store.

Sometimes, Fabbri said, it can feel like she lives on an island. 


In many ways Moorefield has become a microcosm where globalization and a diversifying workforce collides with national, nativist political rhetoric. 

“We’re living in a current political moment where immigration has been really politicized,” said Cynthia Gorman, assistant professor of geography at West Virginia University. “I think both documented and undocumented legal migrants are being really vilified and demonized. So a lot of people are persuaded by that rhetoric.” 

Gorman’s work in refugee resettlement has brought her to Moorefield recently. She’s working to try and better understand “how community dynamics are affected when ICE takes particular kinds of actions in smaller communities where there are meat processing facilities that rely on migrant workers.”

Pilgrim’s Pride is the largest employer in Hardy County, employing approximately 1,700 workers. Photo: Justin Hayhurst/100 Days in Appalachia

On April 16, 2008, ICE agents raided Pilgrim’s Moorefield location, arresting more than 100 employees. It was one of five Pilgrim’s plants raided that day. In total, more than 400 hourly, non-management employees were arrested, detained, separated from their families and dispersed to immigrant detention centers. 

Understanding the 2008 ICE raid might very well help to explain how Hardy County Schools has become the most diverse school system in West Virginia. 

Pilgrim’s need to replace its workforce after the raid is what brought many Eritrean refugees to Moorefield, said Elizabeth Ramsey, an immigration and refugee specialist at West Virginia Catholic Charities. Ramsey explained, Pilgrim’s hired a recruiting or “head hunting” firm following the raid. The company discovered that a refugee resettlement agency was shutting down in North Carolina, leaving several Eritrean refugees without any formal support, so they decided to step in. 

“So that’s how a lot of the Eritreans got to West Virginia. They were recruited by this agency,” Ramsey said.

“I feel like the people [in the community] that have a problem with it think that for some reason people in remote areas all around the world decided to come to Moorefield, West Virginia,” Claudio said. “… Clearly the company is the total influence on that decision.”  

Unlike many large manufacturing companies who have found it more cost effective to shift their production outside of the U.S., “some industries — like poultry — have figured out how to bring the global labor force to them,” writes Dr. Angela Stuesse, in her 2016 book, “Scratching out a Living.” Steusee spent years in Mississippi studying the poultry industry’s recruitment of Latin American immigrants in the South. 

“It is not a coincidence,” Stuesse writes, “that poultry corporations have chosen to locate their processing facilities in some of the most remote areas of the South.”  

Residents in Moorefield rely on the poultry industry, which, in turn, relies on migrant labor. It’s creating a push and pull in a place where three out of four Hardy County voters chose Donald Trump as their president in 2016. 

In a place with limited employment opportunities, Claudio said he’s heard many local residents ask, “Why did they have to choose here?” It’s the same reason we work there, Claudio said.  

“Everybody is trying to find a way to live and do better.” 


Amy Fabbri first became involved in Moorefield’s migrant community when she and a friend started hosting international potlucks. Through connections made in the potlucks, she found out about the vacancy in Moorefield’s adult English program. Photo: Justin Hayhurst/100 Days in Appalachia

When Zaam and Man get off from work, the house is still warm from their children. The couple, who work night shift in Pilgrim’s chicken breast deboning department, get home 20 minutes after their two youngest have already boarded the bus for school, and most of the time they miss their oldest, Julia, who has already left for her classes at Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College. 

On the days that Zaam and Man attend Fabbri’s morning English class, they skip sleeping in the morning to, instead, sleep in the afternoon and evening, which often means they’ll miss dinner with their kids. Sometimes they miss seeing them all together, waking up for night shift after their children are already asleep. 

But compared to the alternative, staying in Myanmar or living in the U.S. away from his family, which Zaam did for three years, he’ll take working at Pilgrim’s any day.  

Zaam doesn’t talk much about why he left Myanmar. But it’s clear it wasn’t a place he felt supported his health or the health of his family. 

“Everybody that is a refugee,” said Zaam, “[our] country’s government is no good.” 

“I like the Moorefield,” he said. “It’s easy, not noisy. It’s good. Safe.”  

“Probably all of them have experienced some kind of trauma,” Fabbri said of her students. “I know to learn you have to feel comfortable and safe.” 

So Fabbri has worked to make her classroom feel like a cozy cabin. Some of the walls are lined in wood paneling. Green house plants poke out of corners. The smell of fresh coffee greets you at the door, a special treat for weary hands to wrap around.

We want the space to feel comfortable and safe,” Fabbri said of her English classroom.“I’d say it’s almost like a little family.”  Photo: Justin Hayhurst/100 Days in Appalachia

Every morning, when her students arrive, they bend down to sign in on a paper that sits underneath a string of Christmas lights and colorful flags. 

Every student’s flag is on the wall. There are 11 total, a symbol of Moorefield’s growth and a way for Fabbri to tell her students, “Welcome.” 

Part One of Always Hiring explores how a town of less than 2,500 became one of the most diverse places in West Virginia and what the poultry industry has to gain from its diversified workforce.

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Seeking Common Ground: Immigrants Find Footing in a Rural English Classroom

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In Amy Fabbri’s English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) class in Moorefield, every time a new student joins her morning or afternoon session, she gives them the honor of pining their name next to their home country on a large map of the globe. The map that hangs on her classroom wall has pins marking Haiti. Mexico. El Salvador. Ethiopia. Myanmar. Ninety percent or more of her students work for Pilgrim’s Pride, a chicken processing plant located in the middle of the small West Virginia town. 

The conditions that brought her students to Moorefield are varied, but if you ask them what they think of their new, rural home, the answer is almost unanimous. “I like it.” For many of Fabbri’s students, the quiet, safe town is a comfort. It’s relatively easy for them to walk to the grocery store or to Wal Mart to get what they need. And for many, having a job that is close to their home– somewhere they can walk to and earn a decent wage without needing specific education or language requirements– can feel like a blessing. 

Photos by Justin Hayhurst.

The surnames of the class members have been withheld for their privacy.

Belkis, Dominican Republic

“I like Moorefield,” Belkis, an employee of Pilgrims’ Pride said, “because it’s close to my work.”

It doesn’t matter what level you’re at, Belkis said, of Fabbri’s English class. “I learn everyday … We practice with different accents.”

During class, Belkis is often the first to respond to Fabbri’s questions about conjugating verbs or identifying months and dates.

Vana, Haiti

Vana is one of the oldest members of Fabbri’s English class.

After working night shift at Pilgrim’s Pride, where she stands for long hours on a line, Vana, who suffers from arthritis, walks to Fabbri’s 9 a.m. class.

She likes to sit next to her friend, Marie, who is also from Haiti. 

Marie, Haiti

Marie has lived in Moorefield for five years. She came to West Virginia to work at Pilgrim’s Pride after originally moving to Florida from her home in Haiti.

Marie works in the chicken breast de-boning department on night shift.

When she arrives at Amy’s class, Marie says, she’s tired but happy.  

Ahmed, Eritrea

Ahmed works the night-shift at Pilgrim’s.

He used to worked in housekeeping at a hotel in Missouri and later he worked in Chicago.

But in 2012, he moved to Moorefield for work in the chicken plant.

“It’s good,” Ahmed said of his life in Moorefield. 

Florentina, Mexico

When Moorefield schools are experiencing a snow day, Florentina brings her young daughter to class with her.

Fluent in Spanish and English, Florentina’s daughter often serves as a tiny translator for her mom, helping her to learn the new language.

Unlike many of her classmates, Florentina does not work for Pilgrim’s Pride, but stays home with her children.

Patricia, El Salvador

Patricia has lived in Moorefield for not quite a year.

When she isn’t attending Fabbri’s classes, she works in her family’s restaurant, Pupuseria Emerita, housed in a single wide trailer on the other end of town.

There, she serves up traditional cuisine from Honduras and her home country El Salvador.

Amy Fabbri, adult ESOL teacher in Moorefield

Amy has taught adult English classes for two years in Moorefield.

The most common languages spoken in Amy’s class are Burmese, Spanish, Haitain Creole, Amharic (spoken in Ethiopia), and Mam, a Mayan language spoken in in Guatemala. 

“They are very respectful,” Amy said of her students. “They are eager to learn.”

Chriss Spina,  teaching assistant at the ESOL Class

Before Moorefield’s ESOL class found its current, permanent home, Chriss used to keep boxes of learning supplies in her car.

As the longtime teaching assistant for the class, Chriss bounced around from location to location. They were based in the library temporarily. They moved to the Presbyterian Church. They were even located on the property of Pilgrim’s Pride for some time.

But of all the places she’s worked in, Chriss says, the class’ current location with its wood paneling walls and welcoming atmosphere feels like home. 

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Bienvenido a Pupuseria Emerita

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“The kitchen is small, but these are the famous pupusas,” Emerita said during a recent visit to her restaurant in Moorefield. Since immigrating to the U.S. decades ago from her home country of Honduras, Emerita has worked in several restaurants, but Pupuseria Emerita in Moorefield is the first restaurant she’s ever owned. Photo: Justin Hayhurst/100 Days in Appalachia

Pupuseria Emerita sits just a few hundred yards off of Moorefield’s Main Street. But drive down the bumpy gravel sidestreet to where the small restaurant sits and soon, it will feel like you’re somewhere else completely.

A large maple tree sitting next to the singlewide trailer, the restaurant’s humble home, offers shade on warm days. A covered porch is attached to the front entrance where sleepy cats like to stretch out and men sit around conversing in Spanish. 

Emerita’s daughter, Ayde, travels from her home in Winchester, Virginia every week to support her mom’s restaurant on busy days. Together, the women spend hours every day to prepare meals by scratch. Photo: Justin Hayhurst/100 Days in Appalachia

Inside, Emerita and her daughter Ayde, navigate their narrow kitchen with ease. Most of the time when you stop in, there are three generations all assembled together. Emerita is often found at the griddle making fresh pupusas, watching the flat bread begin to puff up as warm cheese oozes from its pocket.

In between making authentic Honduran and El Salvadorian meals, like homemade tortillas or fresh seafood soup, Ayde often runs the cash register for her mom because her English is better. And on a Friday or Saturday evening, Ayde’s children, Emerita’s grandchildren, are also found sitting in the restaurant with their homework spread across a table.  

“They practice very radical hospitality,” Amy Fabbri said of Emerita and her family. “She makes you feel comfortable right away,” Fabbri added. “That’s just her gift.” 
From left to right, Emerita’s husband who folks call “Candle,” Emerita, Aydea, Emerita’s daughter, and Jocelyn, Emerita’s granddaughter.
Photo: Justin Hayhurst/ 100 Days in Appalachia

Emerita didn’t move to Moorefield for the poultry industry. She moved here because she wanted to. After living in the U.S. for years and working in restaurants in larger cities, Emerita found a community and a Hispanic church that embraced her in Moorefield.

In return, through her handmade pupusas and tacos, she’s providing a little piece of home to the many families that have immigrated from South and Central America, and she’s expanding the palettes of the many Moorefieldians who have always called these mountains home.

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