Most households get the bulk of their monthly income at the beginning of the month, and for low income families the last few days of the month can lead to difficult choices.
Most households get the bulk of their monthly income at the beginning of the month, and for low income families the last few days of the month can lead to difficult choices regarding paying for food and other expenses. Choosing between food and rent, or food and gas is always a difficult choice, but for those living with health issues it can be an even harder one.
A recent study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco focused on low income individuals living with diabetes and the effect hunger plays on their overall health. Even when taking medications, people with diabetes are at risk for hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, especially if they are going hungry. Hypoglycemia most commonly leads to hospitalization, but if left untreated, can lead to more severe health consequences such as seizures, unconsciousness, or coma.
The study showed that individuals from households with low incomes had higher rates of hospital admissions than those from high income households. Additionally, the hospital admissions of individuals from low income households increased 31% from the first week of the month to the fourth week. The hospitalization for high income households did not change during the month. In other words, the lack of reliable income at the end of the month puts people living with diabetes at higher risk for health concerns that could be avoided simply by having enough food to last to the end of the month.
There are a number of ways this problem could be solved; however, the bottom line is that these families need to know they will have access to food throughout the month from the source that makes sense for them. Food banks and community meal programs play important roles in getting food to low income individuals while the flexibility of SNAP, allows families to plan out their food purchases and know that they will have enough food to last the whole month.