Diabetes When You're Poor

I just read a fabulous post by Gretchen Becker (she lives with type 2 and happens to be a member around here too) titled “Diabetes When You’re Poor”. I highly recommend it:

Do you have anecdotes of things where you’ve been able to affect change locally? Getting grocery stores to carry healthier things? Not letting monetary constraints get in the way of your diabetes? Please share them…

My husband and I support a non-profit here in Sussex County, NJ called “Project Self-Sufficiency”. PSS helps families, displaced homemakers, and teen parents get back on their feet. They recently partnered with Angel Food Ministries to bring affordable fresh food boxes to PSS participants. I just looked at their website, and I did not realize they are national. A box of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, poultry, and canned goods to feed a family of four for a week costs about $30. looking at the selections, I’m sure they could be healthier, but it’s a start.

The most encouraging thing was that the positive effects on A1C continued after the program ended. Hard to believe our education system does not even teach basic problem solving. Just teaching someone to test and note the effects of various foods would help. You don’t necessarily have to present a rigid diet, just teach them to observe what their own body is telling them and then to act upon this info.


Angel Food Ministries has help my family out for the last 4 months, I highly recommend them.

Very important topic and great to hear this problem is being addressed. I worked at a mental health facility in a very poor county in Northern California; most of my clients were on SSI. I had a wonderful nutritionist I brought in to talk to the clients and she helped them look at healthier alternatives that they could get on a tight budget. We even did cooking lessons teaching people to make large pots of foods from scratch and freeze them, rather than rely on fast food bought on the fly. I was really shocked at how expensive that stuff is! We distributed information about the local churches that had food banks, including ones that had fresh produce in addition to canned goods. We went on educational shopping trips as a group and arranged a regular van to take the clients to a larger town an hour over the mountain where they could shop at discount markets.

This program was for a specialized population but I think there are many non-profits that could provide these type of services for people with limited resources and that we as diabetics can support these type of programs with donations or with volunteer time.

It would be nice if the big pharmaceutical companies each would sponsor a program of medication and insulin for those who are unable to afford it, and for endos and cde’s to compile lists of such resources. It also would be nice if there would be some kind of clearing mechanism for donations by diabetics to others in need. When I was working I would have been glad to donate a set amount a month to a fund to provide medications for others with diabetes if some organization had made it convenient to do so.

Just some thoughts.

Good suggestions Zoe. I, too would donate time and money for medications, training, and fresh foods if there were some type of “clearing house” for those donations…
God Bless,

I wish more people were generous like they are on here. I am so sick of hearing people whine about people on welfare and food stamp saying they are all 'lazy" and don’t want to work. We have a bad economy right now. Lots of people made good money before and are now newly on food stamp and some on welfare. I am one of the ones on Food Stamps, no medical insurance, no job or unemployment benefits. I am lucky to be able to sit stay with my family and they help me out. I am still limited to only $200 a month on SNAP and now they want to CUT it - I barely make it with what I have - good thing with Type 2 I have to cut my portions - weirdly enough that helps save money on food. I don’t buy the crap stuff ether: I make the sacrifice to buy the quality stuff and buy less and go without any 'treats". I even use some of the funds to buy treats for my cats (tuna etc) but none for myself rarely (except for chocolate but those count as my snacks on a daily basis). I go to low cost clinic where I pay $15 a visit and my family helps me with money for the cheapest meds and meter supplies at Walmart.

I just through agrueing with some on some other forum who thinking that only “truly worthy” people should get Food stamps or Medicaid or Welfare and she is “sick of paying into a system to help lazy people” - well, who are these people? How do you determine who is “worthy” and who isn’t? Bunch of crap and stereotyping. I just tell those people when you send out that negative energy into the universe - you just wait - it will come back to you. You might be the same position one day and you will be singing a different tune.

I’ll bet that person wouond think that I don’t deserve the help I got over the years. You do swollow your pride and have to take some help sometimes. I’ve had to many times b/c I can’t afford all the new diabetes stuff out there. Now I went to work at 14 (YES VERY YOUNG) and worked my tail off til I couldn’t work no more and used up all my “saved money” for medical supplies (Type 1 here) now I have to ask for help. I know I didn’t work longer enough for ppl to think I “deserved” it (31) but as I told my dad (yep he even said that to me) My health didn’t last enough for me to make it til retirement. Sorry but I live a little at a time now.

I know Doris - some people just can’t put themselves into other people shoes and what makes me the most mad is the stereotypes (just like with diabetes) - people assume that people on assistance are a certain kind of people. - mostly they assume these things because they believe just what they “think” is the truth by media and other sources that often lie about the real reality and leave out important details.

Sure, there are abusers of the assistance that is available - but you can’t point fingers and say everyone is like that because it simply isn’t true - everyones story is unique. Most of the times these are people who, unlike you and I, haven’t had hard knock ever in their lives and have no idea what it is really like and what the people in these situations are truly like. A few bad apples and the rest of us have to deal with bad comments and pointing fingers. Funny how, once you get to the point where you need some help, you always think “never thought this would happen to me” because no one wants it to happen - unfortunatley others don’t see it that (until it happens to them).

Good for you KimKat. I too am living with poverty through no fault of my own and I know how hard it is. Luckily my medications and diabetic supplies are not that expensive under our system.

too true.it’s really sad that ppl don’t understand that their are some ppl do abuse it but there are just like you said those of us who don’t and NEED help.

Some people seem lack the compassion gene. They simply can’t put themselves in another persons shoes, or imagine it could happen to them. It’s easier to look at the bad apples and paint with a broad brush, but when the need arises they have no problem accepting help.

Seniors with diabetes (and the people who care about them) may be able to get help from the Center for Advocacy Rights and Interests of the Elderly (CARIE). They can help people get access to care and supplies they need, as well as helping with pretty much any issue that affects seniors. www.carie.org Call at 215-545-5728. Although based in Philadelphia, they help anywhere in the country and internationally.

Unfortunately here in Florida the poverty level has risen just like every where else. My family and I rely on foodstamps and medicaid. My daughter is diabetic and so is my mom, my older daughter who is 16 suffers from respiratory issues and is constantly in the er.I worked when I first moved to Florida,then my younger child got really sick and was in the hospital for 3 weeks. My job was gone, no money, no help we ended up homeless living in a shelter for 6 months, transitional 1year and 4 months and now permanent housing for the homeless. And all this with 2 sick kids and a sick mom. But we’ve managed to stay afloat by streching every penny. So I really wished that people would not judge and critize the poor, because it’s not by choice, but because of the system it self.

I love this topic! I’ve had so many discussions with young, arrogant, healthy conservatives (usually male) who seem to think there should be no safety net at all. Since I am an elderly, disabled, semi-humble conservative (at least on moral issues), I always enjoy telling them that I am one of those worthless poor people who get gummint benefits.

Of couse, I also explain that, after a lifetime of being a workaholic, I COULD NOT work any longer. And that it took me almost 4 years (without insurance or income) to win disability benefits. I relied on free clinics, patient assitance programs, doctors’ samples, and family to get me through.

I once discussed with my doc the problem of getting enough healthy food when you are living below poverty level. She sympathized and suggested ramen noodles! There is a crying need for both education and material help for poor folks with diabetes.

Since I also have arthritis, fibro, and lupus, I often don’t feel like cooking, and the temptation is great just to grab anything handy. So when I DO feel decent, I cook huge pots of soup or beans or chili and freeze in single or double portions. I just had some unfrozen minstrone soup for lunch, and on this rainy day it hit the spot.

This year I am arranging with poor but able-bodied neighbors to plant a garden–my yard, my tools and seeds, their labor. I recently also bought staple foods in bulk to save money. I have returned to a mainly vegetarian diet, since I can’t afford meat anyway! LOL!

What are some other good ideas for getting healthy foods?

DEFINITELY – I’ve gotten test-strips from Amazon and other wholesale diabetes sites that helped me save money. And no one should ever have to pay a lot for syringes – those are really easy to get safely online, just buying googling “insulin syringe 31 gauge.” (31 is a common gauge size for insulin users).

When you’re really desperate (and not on health insurance), I’ve found test-strips for cheaper meters at liquidation centers. The test-strips were usually near expiration but if you’re in a bind and really don’t want to pay the extra $100 for strips, this is a good way to tide you over. Just know that they won’t be quite as accurate (although, all test-strips are about 15-20% off anyways…).