Yes we can…eat healthy on food stamps.

The Lil Resident’s Sunday School Teacher (LRSST or Laurist) is a medical student at New Atlantis Ivory Tower Medical School (NAITMS). As is Dr. J.’s wont, he likes to keep tabs on what Laurist is learning in school. Usually, Laurist has probing questions about pharmacotherapy, the physical exam or some lab test she is learning about.

Today, Laurist told Dr. J. about her surprising findings in a social experiment foisted on her and her classmates by a teacher in one of her ‘professionalism seminars.’ 
Insert Digression Here 
By way of background, someone decided that in medical school, we’re teaching them the nuts and bolts of medicine really well, but some of the kids end up asshats. Given that doctors who are asshats tend to get sued, and just plain don’t do well in their job (unless they’re one hell of a surgeon, in which case a certain amount of asshattery can be overlooked) we want to teach them how to act professional and how to deal with people from all parts of society. Now when Dr. J. was in medical school, the doctors modeled good behavior and gave us a sense of our sacred and fiduciary responsibilities to the patient. Those of us who were raised right by our parents and trained by good doctors tended to become ‘good doctors’ so to speak. However, for some folk, it didn’t stick, one or two dropped out, the rest went into ‘safe’ professions where their personalities didn’t affect their ability to do their job (e.g. radiology). Now we try to weed out the problem children in the application process a little better and we have these professionalism classes, because more and more of the kids weren’t raised quite so right, and the AAMC wants us to teach professionalism.
End of Digression

Anyway, Laurist was, at present, being taught about the challenges of caring for the less fortunate, and poverty makes delivery of care to the poor more challenging. This is completely true. Her teacher got onto the subject of food stamps and made the statement that it’s impossible to eat healthily on food stamps. He then challenged the class to make a food log and live on, if Dr. J. understood correctly, $22 a week for 2 weeks. Dr. J. would have hoped it was $40, to be ironic, but it wasn’t meant to be. 
Now in addition to spending the $22 a week, limited to food that can be purchased on food stamps, they were allowed to eat ‘free food.’ There was a debate amongst the students as to what ‘free food’ was legit. Laurist had a donut and coffee after mass because, as she saw it, anyone who attends mass, rich or poor, can score church donuts. She eschewed box lunches at noon seminars at NAITMS because the EBT population probably don’t have access to that. 
Laurist informed me today that she was quite successful in eating healthfully (other than the church donut)  on $22 a week. Indeed, she stated that it was the healthiest week she’s had in a while and was able to get a sense of what bargains were available (specifically she was impressed with both the quantity and quality of frozen veggies were at her disposal). Understanding what was available to her patients, she feels confident, now, to encourage her less well off patients that they CAN find healthy choices for themselves and their families if they are on public assistance. To be fair, our friends at CNN couldn’t pull off the New Atlantis success story in Washington D.C. with $8 additional dollars.

Dr. J. would like to take this a step further. Given that there are unhealthy choices that can be purchased with food stamps, Dr. J. thinks that, from a policy standpoint, we should limit the things that can be purchased on food stamps. Food stamps, after all, are your and my tax dollars at work to help the poor, and should be spent wisely. Usually this is a ‘Puter theme. Dr. J. would even be willing to float the truly needy a few extra bucks a day if we limit what folks can buy to healthy choices (and not Oreo’s though he loves them so…). 
And while Laurist’s professor’s experiment probably backfired from his P.O.V., Dr. J. and Laurist both found it a rousing success. Perhaps she can teach the course when she graduates.

About Dr. J.

Dr. J. was born the son of a New Atlantean sharecropper who cornered the market on notoriously delicious seaweed Himanthalia elongata (popularly known as Thongweed). With his newly minted seaweed fortune, Mr. J. the Elder sent his son to attend the Academy of Sorcery, Alchemy and Surgery where the good doctor apprenticed with the finest sorcerer surgeons in New Atlantis. Dr. J.'s areas of expertise grew to include bleeding, cutting for stone, trephination, medical divination with outstanding spatial and temporal resolution, cybernetic sorcery and medicinal alchemy. When King Orin of Atlantis fell ill with the Ick, Dr. J. stepped in with an elixir he devised from a combination of minerals, herbs and saps. Curing the king, Dr. J. gained significant notoriety which afforded him the luxury of time to devote himself to his side hobbies which include porpoise racing, the study of supply-side economics, cooking and raising his lovely merchildren alongside his lovely bride the archconservative Mrs. Dr. J.