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In case you’re interested in learning more, we offer you a list of different scholarly pieces on food and disability issues. First, read the abstract to see if you’re interested in the specific topic, then click on the links listed under each piece to read the entire article.

All of the following pieces have been pulled from a special edition of Disability Studies Quarterly. The articles listed below have been done so with explicit permission from the authors. If you’re interested in viewing the entire issue, follow this link to the full DSQ 2007 issue (Volume 27, Number 3).

If you don’t see what you want to learn about here, use the Internet to search for it. We offer you these articles just whet your appetite.

Food & Disability Studies: Introducing a Happy Marriage


Food Studies scholarship has yet to make the notion of “disability” central to its analyses. At the same time, Disability Studies scholarship, with its long tradition of examining the social, cultural, and environmental nature of disability, and its emphasis on inclusion and exclusion, has yet to make food and eating a core focus for analysis. Articles in this volume address the site of intersection between these two fields, utilizing a variety of approaches and from a variety of disciplines.

Author Information:

Disability Studies Quarterly
(Theme Issue: Eat, Drink, & Inclusion: The Politics of Disability & Food)

Associate Professor
Department of Anthropology
Montclair State University

If you’re interested in reading the entire piece, click on “Food and Disability Studies.”

Physical Disabilities and Food Access Among Limited Resource Households


Food is a basic need of all people. The degree to which people have access to food influences food choice, quality of life, health, and illness. We examined how physically impaired and disabled food shoppers from low-income households managed food provision for their families and the impact health and physical disabilities had on family food choice among those with limited resources. This qualitative study examined food access among 28 low-income rural, village, and inner city families in upstate New York, selected by purposive and theoretical sampling. An unanticipated finding emerged that nearly one-half of participants, all primary grocery shoppers for their families, had a variety of health conditions and disabilities that limited food access and, in turn, healthy, affordable food. These findings suggest that physical abilities, agency, and context interact in food access.

Author Information: 

Caroline B. Webber
Assistant Professor
Department of Family and Consumer Sciences
Western Michigan University
E-mail: caroline.webber@wmich.edu

Jeffery Sobal
Division of Nutritional Sciences
Cornell University

Jamie S. Dollahite
Associate Professor
Division of Nutritional Sciences
Cornell University

If you’re interested in reading the entire piece, click on “Physical Disabilities and Food Access.”

A young man with dark hair and a well-kept beard reaches up from his wheelchair to open the refrigerator door
WID employee, Alex Ghenis, is sad to see that the refrigerator is empty | Photo by Elizabeth Layman

“Fat, Furious, and Forever Wanting Food”: Prader-Willi Syndrome in Major Newspapers, 2000-2005


This study examines media representations of persons with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS), a rare, complex condition caused by an error on Chromosome 15. Articles appearing in major U.S. and international newspapers from January, 2000 to December, 2005 were included in the study (N = 68). Findings show that while some stories portrayed the syndrome in a more positive light, most reports were overwhelmingly negative or mostly negative, focusing on severe issues related to food-seeking behaviors, obesity, cognition, and behavior. Common stereotypes used to portray persons with PWS aligned with those often used to describe persons with disabilities and obese persons, even in the stories coded as positive or mostly positive. In the more negative portrayals, the obesity or “eating disorder” of the person with PWS was often a focus, illustrating the stereotype of the fat person as deviant. Some overall trends and patterns in U.S. versus international news outlets were also observed.

Author Information:

Karyn Ogata Jones
Clemson University
E-mail: karynj@clemson.edu

Margaret R. Smith
University of Texas-Austin

If you’re interested in reading the entire piece, click on “Fat, Furious, and Forever Wanting Food.”

Cultural Commentary: Cream Cheese, Potato Chips, and the Anger in an Egg Salad Sandwich


Having an impairment often takes away one’s ability to make his or her own choices about food. In this cultural commentary piece, the author describes a grocery shopping trip that goes awry when two people with low-vision try to find low-fat cream cheese with the help of a shopper’s assistant. The frustrating inability to control the situation paints a poignant picture of the larger experience of living with a disability.

Author Information:

Catherine Kudlick
Professor of History and Director,
Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability
E-mail: kudlick@sfsu.edu
Note: Be sure to also check out the recipe that she sent us for Pasta with Clam Sauce.

If you’re interested in reading the entire piece, click on “Cream Cheese, Potato Chips, and the Anger in an Egg Salad Sandwich.”

A hamburger bun, generously filled with egg salad
An egg salad sandwich | Photo by Elizabeth Layman

Cultural Commentary: What Is It with All the Napkins?


In this cultural commentary piece, the author describes a few different moments in her life, one involving Chinese food, one involving mashed potatoes, and the final one involving too many napkins. In these stories, she highlights the experience of eating and interacting with people in the food industry when you a person with a disability.

Author Information:

Anne Finger
Author and disability rights advocate
E-mail: AnnieDigit@mindspring.com

If you’re interested in reading the entire piece, click on “What Is It with All the Napkins?

Cultural Commentary: Institutionalizing the De-Institutionalization of Food


Based on her experiences with institutions for people with disabilities in Sydney, Australia, the author discusses improvements in the arena of institutions’ food systems. For many years, residents of institutions mainly ate stews and steamed vegetables or went out to eat fast food. The author details the steps that she and others took in order to improve the health benefits and the variety of the food offered in institutions and how these improvements can be continued in the future.

Author Information:

Margaret Bail
CEO (1997-2005) responsible for the care of more than 500 people with intellectual disabilities living in some large government institutions in western Sydney, Australia

If you’re interested in reading the entire piece, click on “Institutionalizing the De-Institutionalization of Food.

Two round tables are pulled together, so that seven friends, all with varying impairments, can share a lunchtime meal together
Breaking bread together is vital in any community | Photo by Elizabeth Layman

Review of The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan


The author describes Pollan’s book and its take on food and the natural order. Though Pollan’s book is overall educational and a fun read, its focus on the natural order and some of the language it uses casts people with disabilities in an unfair and unflattering light.

Author Information:

Carrie Griffin Basas
Adjunct Faculty
MBA Program
Saint Joseph’s College of Maine

If you’re interested in reaching the entire piece, click on “Review of The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

Cultural Commentary: Food and Hunger Transcript from CD, entitled “Lest We Forget,” Track 33, Food and Hunger

Originally a part of a CD Called “Lest We Forget,” this track is both a powerful read and a powerful listen.


Staff members in institutions often dictate what people with disabilities get to eat or don’t get to eat. Through chaotic snippets of dialogue, readers get to experience what it is like eating (or not eating) in an institution–complete with the lack of respect, responsibility, and choice given to the people with disabilities who live there.

Author Information:

Jeff Moyer (Producer)
President of Music from the Heart
E-mail: moyer@jeffmoyer.com

If you’re interested in reading the entire piece, click on “Food and Hunger.” Alternately, you can access the audio version through the following SoundCloud link:

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