Toward the end of every month, hospitals in California see a curious uptick in admissions for hypoglycemia, the kind of low blood sugar that can affect diabetics. The pattern, detected in a recent study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, is almost entirely driven by low-income patients. The non-poor don’t show much change in admissions at all.
The researchers suspect this trend may point to an underlying challenge for the poor: Food stamps, given out in a lump sum at the start of each month, run out for many families before they reach the end of it. Grocery stores in poor neighborhoods often report a rise in business when food stamps are electronically debited, and hospitals may see the result when they run out.
That paper, led by Hilary Seligman, is one of several relatively new studies suggesting that the level of food assistance we give families — the average family of three gets $374 a month — isn’t enough for a month’s worth of meals.