The San Joaquin Valley is the most productive agricultural region in the United States. Six of the nation’s top ten agricultural producing counties are in the region with Fresno, Tulare and Kern topping the list. This output is calculated at over $30 billion in farm gate sales and $106 billion in overall economic impact when factoring in direct, indirect and induced economic benefits.
Yet, paradoxically, recent findings by the Food Research and Action Center, under the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, found “food hardship” – determined by household survey responses acknowledging not having enough money to purchase food in the last year – highest in the San Joaquin Valley. Connecting food hardship with hunger, the study finds that two of the most prominent cities in the Valley lead all metropolitan areas in the United States: Bakersfield in Kern County ranks first (26.7%) and the City of Fresno in Fresno County (22.4%) is fifth. In comparison, the national average is 18.2%.