COH Website

Finney County, Kansas


A meatpacking center located in southwestern Kansas, rural Finney County is home to a diverse community and sizable immigrant population.

Garden City, the county seat, is home to over 73% of the county’s residents, as well as two meatpacking plants. Since the town’s founding in 1879, beef has been a prime driver of the local economy, with the meatpacking industry attracting an influx of Hispanic, Asian, and African immigrants. In 1980, white residents made up 84% of Finney County’s population. Over the next 20 years, the population of foreign-born persons grew, peaking at 23% in 2000. From 2010-2014, the foreign-born population comprised 21% of county residents. The county has embraced these new arrivals; anti-immigrant sentiment is not a feature of community life.

In response to demographic changes in Finney County, several organizations are implementing initiatives to help immigrants better utilize available health care and social services, such as English language classes. Other local initiatives seek to improve the health and well-being of the county’s young children. Finney County has received funding from the Kansas Health Foundation and Garden City to improve its built environment.

  • Overview

    Population and Demographics

    Population: 37,099

    U.S. Census Bureau; photography courtesy Flickr user Dustin Gaffke, CC BY 2.0.

  • Context and Actions

    Community Context and Challenges

    • Despite relatively high rates of employment, 17% of Finney County residents live in poverty; rates of poverty are higher for Hispanic (22%) and Black residents (33%) than for white (11%) and Asian residents (8%).
    • More than half (56%) of the county’s public-school children qualify for free lunch, compared with 40% of Kansas public school students.
    • Educational attainment is significantly lower than for the state and the nation, with racial/ethnic disparities mirroring those related to income.
    • Finney County fares worse than Kansas on nearly all health indicators, especially access to health care; this coincides with the county’s lower rate of health insurance coverage and shortage of primary care providers.

    U.S. Census Bureau. (2014). 2010–2014 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.

    St. Catherine Hospital (2013). Finney County community health needs assessments.

    Taking Action

    Today, stakeholders across Finney County are working to boost community vitality through improved population health.

    Local partnerships and coalitions have emerged to improve the built environment, strengthen social services for immigrants, and connect all residents to resources.

    These baseline reports, created in 2016, track community programs and initiatives in their early stages and measure initial progress only. Future reports will provide more in-depth insights and analysis into this community's efforts to build a Culture of Health.

    Initiatives to Improve Social Services

    Community leaders and residents recognize the contributions of immigrants to local industry and to the community's vitality. To respond to gaps in health care access and poor health outcomes across the county, the public school system, nonprofit organizations and local leaders are implementing initiatives to improve social services and access to health care to all Finney County residents, particularly Hispanic immigrants.

    Finney County Community Health Coalition

    Finney County Community Health Coalition (FCCHC), formed in 2005, brings together stakeholders from health, social service, and education sectors to connect residents to local resources, including health care services and tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

    Live Well Finney County

    Live Well Finney County, an initiative launched by FCCHC with funding from the Kansas Health Foundation, is an initiative that aims to improve the built environment and to support physical activity.

    Genesis Family Health

    Genesis Family Health, established in 1987, is a nonprofit agency that provides a range of services through its network of safety net clinics and programs in and around Garden City. It also manages social service programs, including food and clothing banks, assistance with immigration documentation language translation and targeted health promotion programs.

  • Going Forward

    Questions for Consideration

    Finney County has dramatically changed over the past four decades due to its growing immigrant population. Today, Hispanic residents make up nearly half of the population and experience significant economic, social, and health disparities. While a number of local initiatives aim to link these residents to services, including health care, English classes, and healthy foods, more work is needed to overcome the significant barriers facing immigrants, especially poverty and a lack of health insurance.

    Additional surveillance, data, and information gathering will examine how initiatives to support racially diverse residents affect economic and social inequities and, in turn, the health and well-being of many Finney County residents. Ongoing questions include the following:

    • What challenges do immigrants in Finney County face in acculturating to life in rural southwestern Kansas?
    • To what extent have the efforts to improve health care access been successful in improving health and well-being? What efforts, if any, are underway to increase the supply of health care providers?
    • To what extent are the local government and nonprofit organizations addressing the high teenage pregnancy rate in Finney County?
    • To what extent are various local initiatives communicating and coordinating their efforts?
    • To what extent are local health initiatives tailored to specific racial/ethnic communities?
    • How are local initiatives engaging and empowering residents to improve their economic, social, and health outcomes?
  • Downloads

    Community Snapshot Report

    Community Portrait Report

    Community Landscape Report