About this Blog

Welcome! Thanks for checking out On Food Stamps.

I created this blog in 2009 when I began working at the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank. My work at this organization opened my eyes to food justice issues in America, and I had a strong desire to better understand the difficulties many people face when trying to access healthy food on a limited budget. So, I embarked on my own Food Stamp Challenge, living on $31/week as a vegan. I used this blog to chronicle my experience.

While my Food Stamp Challenge project has come to an end, you can see what I learned from it by reading the Greatest Hits posts linked to the right side of the page. Please excuse any out-of-date links, as I am no longer updating this blog on a regular basis.

Stay Hungry,


Thursday, June 11, 2009

LA vs. El Monte

This morning I went to El Monte, CA for work and I arrived a bit early for my meeting. I decided to do some exploring. El Monte is part of LA County; it is about 12 or 13 exits east of downtown LA on the 10 freeway though, so it feels a bit out of the city.

I wanted to share an observation I had about the cost of living in El Monte vs. the more urban areas of Los Angeles. The above cup of coffee, which I bought in a donut store in El Monte, cost me $0.95. A cup of coffee at a coffee shop in Echo Park is $2.75. Now, granted, my area of LA (Echo Park/Silverlake) is certainly gentrifying, bit it is no Beverly Hills either. When I tell people where I live I still get the occasional joke about watching out for gun shots. Even though it is not a very posh neighborhood yet, the cost of living here is still quite high.

The cheap cup of coffee in El Monte made me think about that pricing. What would it be like to live in El Monte? The rent, like the coffee, would be much cheaper. So would food prices, probably. I could see wanting to live in El Monte to save money. However, it didn't seem to me that there would be many jobs in El Monte. More likely one would have to get into the urban zone of Los Angeles to work every day, and if you didn't have a car this would be a tremendous pain.

That is a trade off that is becoming a theme: cheap or convenient? Live in El Monte and you can get a 3 bedroom apartment for less than $1,000/month and coffee will cost you $0.95. The bus ride in to work will also be 2 hours at rush hour and will be dangerous late at night. Live in Echo Park or East LA and pay higher prices for living expenses, but have less of a commute. What types of things would you have to cut out of your budget to afford the higher cost of living in urban LA? Medical care? Quality food? Seems like you loose either way.


  1. I know where that is! Its off the 10 freeway on Santa Anita!

    I notice a BIG difference between gas prices in L.A. and say east of Monrovia... Easily there can be a 10-15 cent difference.

    On another note of saving money, there is a hispanic market called "Buy Low" on Garvey Ave (south side) a few blocks west of Santa Anita. Fruits and vegetables are CHEAP and INEXPENSIVE. While corn at Vons or Ralphs might cost $1.00 for two or three... you'll get 10 for a $1 in this grocery store. Same types of deals go for tomatoes, oranges, apples, etc. Recently had a party at my dads house. I made homeade lemonade for 20+ people. At my local Albertsons it was one lemon for 80 cents. At Ralphs it was two lemons for a dollar. At Buy Low I paid $1.00 for FIVE POUNDS of lemons. I juiced something like 35 lemons for that party. That would have been $20 or more at my markets for the lemons, at 'Buy Low' I couldnt have paid more than a couple bucks.

    Here is a plus... many times I have seen RALPHS trucks delivering to the back of Buy Low. The food in both stores is the SAME. You might consider doing a blog post about this!

  2. Looking forward to checking out Buy Low. However, I am seriously trying to stick to local and organic produce when I can. Farmer's Markets are the goal here, but I'll never pass up a trip to a good cheap market. Especially after that lemonade story.

    After my lemon tree discovery (see most recent post) I have a surplus of lemons. What is your lemonade recipe? Email me or post a comment!