It’s been established that obesity rates are highest for those in the lowest socioeconomic classes (see a report by Gearhart et al., 2008 for a list of supporting references). At the same time, these are also the individuals most likely to rely upon government assistance programs to support themselves. No big surprise there. But is it reasonable to expect that food stamp recipients will be able to eat healthfully on that budget?

This is the question addressed in the new documentary by Shira and Yoav Potash, Food Stamped. As noted on the film’s official website:

“Food Stamped is an informative and humorous documentary film following a couple as they attempt to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet on a food stamp budget. Through their adventures they consult with members of U.S. Congress, food justice organizations, nutrition experts, and people living on food stamps to take a deep look at America’s broken food system. (62 minutes)”

I haven’t seen it yet (that’s my disclaimer), but I think it brings up an interesting issue. If you Google an image of  “healthy meal”, you get something like this:

Healthy eating! But on a food stamp budget?

In the documentary, the filmmakers, one of whom (Shira) is a certified nutritional educator, set out to serve up healthy meals on an average of $1 per person, per meal, the amount you’d be living off if you were a food stamp recipient.

This begs the question, Can you eat salmon on that budget? Should you even expect to?

Note: I know this issue brings up loads of political angles for discussion. Some may argue that it’s a travesty that we don’t offer more for our poor. Others may argue that the poor are only poor because of decisions they’ve made. Either way, the arguments become very heated, particularly during an election year, so, for the record, this blog is veering clear of such discussions. There are plenty of political forums available if you want to fight for your points.

Final thought to ponder: wouldn’t it be interesting to see whether there’s a connection between the two? What if the food stamp programs paid for by the taxpayers are contributing to the expanding waistlines of the poor? Most will agree that a number of our social programs are in need of overhauling. Is it reasonable to think that we could modify them for the better?