Logan Square doctor's office offers food to kids in need

ByHosea Sanders and Sylvia Jones via WLS logo
Thursday, December 3, 2015
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The Greater Chicago Food Depository offers food at Cook County health clinics to families in need.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Greater Chicago Food Depository is teaming up with the Cook County Hospital and Health System to determine which families are in need and offer food on the spot. The American Academy Of Pediatrics recommends that doctors screen children for food insecurity.

"Each food group is important to a well-balanced diet," Dr. Denise Cunill at Logan Square Health Clinic, said to her patient. While it might add a few minutes to a typical well-child visit, Dr. Cunill said teaching families about nutrition and inquiring about their access to healthy food is worth it.

"The American Academy of Pediatrics has just released the recommendation to screen for food insecurity in all children," Dr. Cunill said. "What we've found is more than 50% of our families are screening positive."

Screening positive means that in the past 12 months families may have needed to reduce the number of meals or size of meals because they don't have the money to purchase food. Guadalupe Guzman said that's a familiar story after her husband lost his job.

"I could probably take two apples compared to six, seven apples before. Same with the oranges and the bananas and the vegetables, forget it. I have to cut down to just one little pack of broccoli or potatoes," Guzman said.

The Cook County Health System's Logan Square clinic is the first of the network's 16 to implement food insecurity screening. It is also partnering with the Greater Chicago Food Depository to offer fresh food on the site.

The fresh truck that visits the clinic offers a variety of fruits and vegetables as preventative medicine.

"The people we serve are really struggling with health consequences of lack of access to quality food. And in particular, about 60% of the people who are turning to our network are struggling with hypertension and 35% of the people we serve have diabetes," Kate Maehr, Greater Chicago Food Depository, said.

The goal is for the fresh truck to regularly visit each of Cook County's health clinics by 2017.