UCSD School of Medicine
Humanitarian Projects Earn Students Tickets to
Clinton Conference on Campus

Pictured from left:
  Tony Chen, Geoff Weiner, Katherine Lee and Matthew Cappiello.

Matthew Cappiello, Katherine Lee, Geoff Weiner and Tony Chen, all students at the School of Medicine, are among 200 UC San Diego students selected to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University conference this weekend on campus. The three-day event will bring former President Bill Clinton to UCSD, as well as several celebrities who also are activists, including actor Sean Penn and actress Mandy Moore, and elected officials, including California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Matthew Cappiello, Katherine Lee, Geoff Weiner and Tony Chen want to provide healthier foods for underserved populations in some of San Diego County's poorest neighborhoods.

They all volunteer at the campus' Student-Run Free Clinic Project. The clinics provide free health care in downtown San Diego, Pacific Beach, National City and Lemon Grove. "It's a very powerful safety net for individuals that have limited access to health care," said Capiello, a first-year medical school student.

Many of the patients coming to the free clinics have little access to supermarkets, which makes it difficult for them to buy healthy food, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, he said. Research shows that poor nutrition is linked to an increased risk for chronic conditions, including diabetes and heart disease.

To help their patients gain access to healthy foods, the four UCSD students have founded the Fresh Foods for Health project. The team is working to find donors to finance the program. The goal is to partner with at least three farmers' markets near UCSD's student-run free clinics to provide discount coupons for the clinics' patients. The partnerships would kick in by this fall. The hope is that more patients will cook healthy meals for themselves and their families, Capiello said.

"A lot of us see that San Diego has humongous health disparities," he said. "We can make a difference."

. . . as reported in This Week @ UCSD

Last Modified 03/29/2011
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