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Central Valley Health Policy Institute

National Collaborative for Health Equity, San Joaquin Valley Counties

Where People, Place and Power Matter


About the San Joaquin Valley

Known as “the nation’s salad bowl”, the San Joaquin Valley is considered California’s top agricultural producing region, with five of its counties ranking among the state’s top 10 farm producers. With an estimated 3.5 million residents, San Joaquin Valley is one of the poorest regions in the United States, but also a source of enormous wealth.

The San Joaquin Valley has a sizeable immigrant population with high poverty and low educational attainment. Disparities in health status within the San Joaquin Valley reflect, in part, historical geographic patterns that have resulted in vulnerable populations living in areas where conditions such as exposure to environmental hazards create greater health risks.

The overall pattern suggests that socioeconomic conditions in low-income and non-white neighborhoods make it more difficult for people in these neighborhoods to live healthy lives.

Points of Study

  • The percentage of the population without a high school diploma in the San Joaquin Valley (30%) is more than twice the percentage of people in the U.S. (14.7%) without a high school diploma.
  • The rate of premature deaths (years of potential life lost before the age 65) in the lowest-income zip codes of the San Joaquin Valley is nearly twice that of those in the highest-income zip codes.
  • Life expectancy varies by as much as 21 years in the San Joaquin Valley depending on zip code.
  • Areas of the San Joaquin Valley with the highest levels of respiratory risk have the highest percentage of Hispanic residents (55%), while areas with the lowest level of respiratory risk have the lowest percentage of Hispanic residents (38%).
  • One in six children in the San Joaquin Valley is diagnosed with asthma before the age of 18, an epidemic level.

Collaborative for Health Equity: San Joaquin Valley (CHE:SJV)

The CHE: SJV team serves as a convener of place-based initiatives in the region and supports their efforts to address inequities from both public health and health care perspectives. 

These activities include:

  1. Research and Policy Analysis- CHE: SJV team members work with the San Joaquin Valley Public Health Consortium (SJVPHC) which is a uniquely regional approach to serving the public health needs of the San Joaquin Valley. The vision of the SJVPHC is to achieve health equity for all residents in the San Joaquin Valley by providing leadership for a regional health agenda that addresses the social determinants of health in the San Joaquin Valley.
  2. Regional Leadership Program and Training- We are committed to facilitating the development of health and healthcare policies and programs in the San Joaquin Valley.The Health Policy Leadership Health Equity Project (HPLP-HEP) was developed and evolved over the past 10 years to serve the professional growth and development of emerging local and regional leaders as they explore key issues in health policy.
  3. Organizational and Community Technical Assistance– CHE: SJV team supports two Building Health Communities sites, funded by the California Endowment in the Valley providing technical assistance, in the form of policy analysis and use of evidence-based research, to organizations and teams in the Fresno Building Healthy Communities programs around framing local policy debates. Yet moving from the emergent science in public health that shows how neighborhoods concentrate resources and barriers for human development and well-being to real changes in the multiple local policies, environments, and programs is challenging.
  4. Fellowships and Internships- CHE: SJV team offers Health Equity, Public health and health policy analysis and applied research training to post graduate and undergraduate students and emerging professionals. We also work in partnership with the UC Berkley School of Public Health “Health Career Connection” (HCC) program inspires and empowers undergraduate students and recent graduates to successfully pursue health careers by offering a 10-week health care internship during summer.