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Editor's Note: This story is unlocked for everyone to read courtesy of the CRVA, our partner in nourishing culinary exploration for residents and visitors of the Queen City.

August 24, 2023

Giving Kitchen’s “Pop-Up Doc” offering free medical care to food service workers

Workers can make appointments to be seen Aug 28-Sept 1

by TM Petaccia

The Giving Kitchen’s “Pop-Up Doc” program offers free medical examinations and consultations for food service workers. Photo: Kevin Brown

The Giving Kitchen has partnered with Dr. Melissa Jones, DO of Priority Care in Plaza Midwood to offer free health and medical services to food service workers in the Charlotte area next week, August 28 – September 1.

“Before I got into medical school, I worked a research job during the day, and I waited tables on nights and weekends,” Jones says. “I enjoyed waiting tables and the culture that went with it, but I also remember how difficult the work can be. When I found The Giving Kitchen was coming to serve the Charlotte area and saw their mission to provide both financial support and community resources to food service workers, I knew I wanted to volunteer with them.”

During “Pop-Up Doc” week, food service workers can arrange to be seen for a variety of healthcare services, including basic physical examinations, acute care (cold/flu, UTIs, injuries, burns, rashes, digestive issues, and others), diabetic care, high blood pressure care, cholesterol maintenance, diet consultations, depression/anxiety consultations, thyroid disorder screenings, feminization /masculinization consultations, and other issues. The service covers the exams and consultations. Patients may be responsible for prescriptions or other medical treatment needs.

Dr. Melissa Jones, DO. Photo courtesy

“Working with Giving Kitchen is a joy,” Jones says. “Their positive energy, along with my passion for helping neighbors and small businesses, makes me so excited for next week. ”

Priority Care is located at 1204 The Plaza, near the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and The Plaza. Food service workers can arrange to be seen, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday-Friday, August 28 – September 1. Appointments can be made online via Signup Genius.

“We try to connect food service workers who are often uninsured or underinsured with fully legitimate and wonderful medical providers who can give them the healthcare they can’t access otherwise,” says Giving Kitchen’s Regional Marketing Manager Ryan Plecha.

Originating in Atlanta, The Giving Kitchen is a nonprofit organization founded by Ryan Hidinger and Jen Hidinger-Kendrick to provide financial assistance to food service workers affected by emergencies such as prolonged illness, injury, death of a family member, or loss of housing due to fire or natural disasters.

It also provides referral services through what it calls its “Stability Network,” of which the Pop-Up Doc program is a part, but also includes programs covering housing referrals, utility aid, social services, immigration issues, and legal aid. The organization has expanded nationally, with most of its concentration in the Southeast.

Jen Hidinger-Kendrick, co-founder of The Giving Kitchen. Photo courtesy

“Pop-Up Doc is Stability Network in action,” Hidinger-Kendrick says. “We partner with medical practitioners to provide essential health care without the requirement of insurance. We’re so grateful to our local clinic partners for providing medical care for the Charlotte food service community.”

In addition to next week, a similar event is scheduled for September 11-12 at Care Ring in Uptown Charlotte. Details can be found on The Giving Kitchen website.

“I want service industry workers to know there are healthcare options for them in their community,” Jones says. “This Pop-Up Doc event will hopefully address health concerns that have gone unseen, introduce our service industry workers to our practice where they can receive affordable care, and raise national attention to the epidemic of healthcare needs for a remarkably valuable workforce.”

“When your livelihood depends on tips, that’s very stressful. I still have a special place in my heart for this industry.”

Note: All appointment slots are now full.

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