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Continued: Schafer: Firms take a business approach to hunger

  • Article by: LEE SCHAFER , Star Tribune
  • Last update: April 20, 2013 - 9:07 PM

Diana Becker Cutts, a pediatrician at Hennepin County Medical Center, is encouraged that health care companies like UnitedHealth are jumping into the issue. As she put it, “they ought to be.”

Cutts is a practicing physician who saw underweight babies and toddlers. She saw older kids with health problems including obesity, and she still finds that people have a hard time connecting obesity to the problem of not having enough food.

“If you look at the foundations of health, nutrition is a big part,” she said. “The population that is the biggest utilizer of health care services is the same population that is most likely to be food insecure.”

The $50,000 grant from Hunger-Free Minnesota will expand the therapeutic food pharmacy to other departments including three to four other HCMC clinics outside of its main campus in downtown Minneapolis, and in the process create a plan to reduce food costs.

When looking at the task of planning for HCMC’s food program to get bigger and more efficient, Cutts said she would welcome the help of businesspeople. She said she knows how to plan and budget for research projects, not write business plans for food distribution.

She is reminded of the recurring scenes in the original “Star Trek” television show where the character Dr. Leonard McCoy, in a moment of exasperation at what he’s been asked to do, shouts at Captain Kirk that “I’m a doctor!” and not some sort of miracle worker or engineer.

“I’m a doctor,” Cutts said. “There is a lot of expertise we need.”

 

lee.schafer@startribune.com 612-673-4302

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