Fresno County is the top agriculture-producing county in the United States, with almost $8 billion in total value for crops and livestock. Despite disruptions caused by the pandemic and wildfires in 2020, Fresno County broke its record for agricultural and livestock production that year.
While agriculture creates prosperity, it is not shared or accessed equitably. Fresno’s concentrated poverty rate is the highest in California. A third of all children are in poverty in Fresno, with half of all Black children in poverty.
There are 999,101 residents in Fresno County. 20.6% of the residents experience poverty, more than 1.5 times the rate in California (11.8%) and the United States (12.3%). More than half of Black (55.6%) and Latinx (58.7%) households are in relative poverty—where they don’t have the minimum income needed to maintain the average standard of living in Fresno County.
The COVID-19 deepened pre-existing inequalities, including wage gaps, access to quality education, housing, and healthcare. This crisis’s structural and multidimensional nature disproportionately affects and continues to affect people in poverty. As a result, these communities are more likely to experience negative social determinants of health such as lower socioeconomic status, poorer working conditions, and lack of access to health care. In addition, these communities will experience worsening living conditions, including housing and the built environment, all of which contribute to higher rates of underlying medical conditions and increased risk of contracting the virus, being hospitalized, and dying from COVID-19.