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 Please excuse any out-of-date links, as I am no longer updating this blog on a regular basis.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,


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Why Diabetes?

My next challenge is quickly approaching. I have chosen to explore barriers to accessing healthy and sustainable food on a budget through the lens of a disease that is common among minority populations in America: Diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association tells us that 23.6 million people in the United States, or 8% of the population, have diabetes. The disease is alarmingly more common each year. From 2005-2007, the total prevalence of diabetes increased 13.5%.

About 95% of people with Diabetes have type 2 or late onset diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes is strongly linked to a sedentary life style, poor diet, race/ethnicity, and obesity . In fact, the International Diabetes Federation states that 80% of people with type 2 Diabetes are overweight.

Spending on Diabetes is also a major concern. Right now, lawmakers in America are struggling to create a better health care system. I think they need to take a hard look at what is going on with Diabetes and the broken food system that is so rapidly increasing its prevalence.

Last Fall news outlets all over America highlighted a study by researchers from the University of Chicago and Stanford University. The study found that the cost of drugs for Type 2 Diabetes cared had DOUBLED from 2001-2007. We are developing and prescribing new drugs to treat Diabetes, and spending more and more money on them even though not everyone seems to agree about just how effective the new drugs are. Another study by the American Diabetes Association study titled Economic Costs of Diabetes in the U.S. in 2007 concludes that the total national cost of Diabetes in 2007 was $174 billion. That $174 billion is comprised of $116 billion in medical costs, and $58 billion in lost productivity resulting from the disease.

That is a hell of a lot of money spent on a disease that is, in most cases, preventable. I want to explore just how difficult it is to stick to a Diabetes Menu Plan on a SNAP/Food Stamp budget. Nicole Laverty, Dietitian at Manna, a non-profit organization in Philadelphia which delivers nourishing meals to low-income people with life threatening diseases, suggested several great resources to me. I found the following on the website for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

How much should I eat each day?

Have about 1,200 to 1,600 calories a day if you are a

  • small woman who exercises
  • small or medium-sized woman who wants to lose weight ** This is me
  • medium-sized woman who does not exercise much
Choose this many servings from these food groups to have 1,200 to 1,600 calories a day:
6 starches 2 milks
3 vegetables 4 to 6 ounces meat and meat substitutes
2 fruits up to 3 fats

Now, clearly in order to follow the above chart I am going to have to investigate just what a "serving" of my favorite foods really looks like. Serving sizes in America are much too large, and while I eat healthful foods, I know that small portions are not my strong point.

In preparation for this challenge I'm going to start measuring my food. I bet I'll be in for a shock!


  1. Just to bring it to your attention, while only 5% to 7% of Diabetics are type 1, there are another 15% to 20% who have what they refer to as type 1.5 or slow onset type 1 diabetes which does not show insulin resistance. It is often misdiagnosed as type 2 although many of those treatments offer little help due to the lack to insulin resistance. While it can be aided by diet these people have a disease that was not caused by their food choices.

  2. Diabetes does cost a lot of money, I think it's one of the most expensive medical conditions, along with Arthritis.