For the Poor, Reality at the Table

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Friday, June 1, 2007

So Tom Wolfe, an owner of a natural foods store, has been able to eat well, if simply, on $25 a week for six weeks ["A Healthful Diet, on $3.57 a Day," Close to Home, May 27]. So what?

One can certainly put together a healthful vegan diet, but doing so requires a level of nutritional expertise that few Americans possess. While I have several vegan friends who have done very well on that regimen, I also have one who has developed serious health problems because of protein deficiency. And in the developing world that Mr. Wolfe holds up as a model for simple eating, 23 children die of causes including malnutrition every minute, according to CARE's Web site.

When it comes to food stamp recipients, there are even more issues. Growing children and pregnant or nursing women have many more needs than a grown man. Spices and condiments to make the diet palatable are out of their reach. Supermarkets with reasonable prices are rare in their neighborhoods, and they cannot gain access to the savings that buying in bulk would provide.

Let us not reduce this serious issue to a contest about who can eat more cheaply. Our federal food stamp program is inadequate, and people are going hungry every day.

CAROL NISSENSON

Washington


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