Food Stamp Challenge

When I decided to take the 30 day food stamp challenge, I wanted to go all out simulating as authentic of an experience as possible. See Setup & Rules for the details of my parameters. Then click on the 30 Days On Stamps category to read about each day my experience.

My goal was to complete the 30 day food stamp challenge while maintaining a healthy diet. What inspired me to do this?

Well … unless you avoid the news like the Bubonic Plague, you know that obesity has reached epidemic status in the United States. What you may not be familiar with is the correlation between obesity and income levels. This is neither unusual nor surprising; throughout history all over the world the poor starve while the rich maintain a hearty rotund shape. However, the interesting fact about today’s U.S. citizens is that in the majority of cases the reverse is true. Okay, the upper class is not starving, but the lower class certainly has surpassed their richer counterparts in terms of size.

Why does the U.S. have such unusual weight statistics? Here are a few common explanations for the obesity epidemic:
  • Food is not the same as it was several decades ago
  • Food deserts in cities make it difficult for people to find inexpensive fruits, vegetables, and meats
  • Two-income households and single parents do not have time to prepare quality meals
  • Adults and kids alike exert less physical energy than their ancestors in everyday activities
Reflecting on these reasons, I noticed the first three can be overcome with money. If you have the extra income, you can afford to shop at high-quality grocery stores such as Whole Foods. Free range chickens definitely cost more than Tyson’s. Wealth also cures the lack of home-cooked meals problem – instead of McDonalds you can now afford to buy Whole Foods’ already prepared, healthier meals everyday of the week. So what do these findings mean for the lower class? Is a good portion of America doomed to obesity? I tend to think not. I believe nearly all Americans receive enough resources to be able to eat healthy – even on a tight budget – and I am determined to prove it by doing it myself under similar circumstances. My attempt may be flawed, but my intentions are 100% pure.


  1. Wow! I really applaude your efforts. I worked for over 25 years at a large grocery chain in Northern CA and now work in the same industry on the east coast. As a checker, I could determine that a customer was going to pay with food stamps, by
    looking into a cart as I pulled it closer to the check stand, even before glancing up to greet the customer. Why? The cart was always filled with the most highly processed convenience foods. Typically the only “vegetable” in the cart would be frozen french fries. As food stamp recipients, a customer could legally load up on soda, candy and chips but was not allowed to buy soap or toilet paper. Very often there would be some very expensive items in the cart that were obviously a poor choice in trying to stretch a budget. I have seen caviar and filet mignon purchased with foodstamps. Since the carts were filled with nutritionally empty high calorie items it is no coincidence that the customers were also typically overweight. During my entire grocery store career I can honestly say that I could count on one hand the food stamp customers who were making healthy choices and making their food stamp budget stretch. I often wondered if the Dept. of Social Services had any idea what their clients were purchasing or if they offered any guidance.
    Your contributions are valuable to not only food stamp recipients, but to anyone trying to maintain a healthy diet and staying within a budget.
    Thank you so much for addressing this issue. Wishing you luck in spreading the word!

    • That is very interesting how quickly you picked up on this sad trend and fate of our nation. Thanks for sharing your story. Caviar??!! Which grocery store do you work with on the east coast?

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