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WORKING AT A FREE CLINIC: A PANEL DISCUSSION ABOUT ACCESSIBILITY OF INTEGRATIVE NUTRITION CARE

Updated: Jun 23, 2023



For this panel discussion we had 3 amazing guests:

  • Vanessa van der Linden who works at Families Together of Orange County. Vanessa is a CNS and previously did her internship with the Nutrition & Herbal Collective.

  • Laura Davis-Loschiavo who volunteers at the Huntington Beach Senior Center. Laura is currently doing her CNS SPE with the Nutrition & Herbal Collective.

  • & Lisa Jo Finstrom who previously volunteered at Mansfield Kasemen Clinic. Lisa Jo is a CNS and previously did her internship with the Nutrition & Herbal Collective.


Food deserts are real. What is a food desert? It is a geographic location where access to healthy food is limited or unavailable. It is estimated that 23.5 million Americans live in food deserts and have limited real food access. Even in locations where supermarkets exist with real whole food, there are folks can not access the food due to transportation issues or lack of financial resources.


While offering nutrition at free clinics does not solve the issue of food deserts, it does educate folks with limited food resources on how to navigate this and optimize their health with the resources they have available to them.


We have a real potential win-win here.


  1. Most free clinics do not employ nutritionists.

  2. While low and no cost nutrition consulting does exist in programs like WIC and extension programs, there are limitations in these offerings and functional and integrative nutrition perspectives are not included.

  3. Accessibility to integrative and functional nutrition is limited because these services are often cash-based or fee for service.

  4. Candidates for the CNS credential need to acquire 1,000 Supervised Practice Experience hours and working in a free or low cost clinic is an ideal way to knock out these hours fairly quickly.


Several CNS-candidates we have worked with in our Mentorship Program (LINK) have completed those hours working in low income or free clinics, bringing integrative nutrition to underserved populations. This is an important topic and a win-win. Completing one’s SPE by serving high need population groups is an important way to give back to the community and complete the 1,000 hour requirement.


Come watch our panel discussion to learn from CNS’s and CNS-candidates that have worked in free and low income clinics.


Panelists will be asked the following questions:

How did you get into the free clinic? what was the process?

What were the challenges?

What were the unique opportunities?

If someone wanted to find a free clinic to work with, what advice would you give them?

Were there ways you adapted your clinical work to assist individuals with limited income?



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