Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance (MANNA)

Organizational mission statement (50 words or less): 

MANNA uses nutrition to improve health for people with serious illnesses who need nourishment to heal. By providing medically tailored meals and nutrition education, we empower people to improve their health and quality of life.

Brief description of organization (include key programs and recent achievements, 100 words or less):

MANNA uses nutrition to improve health for people with serious illnesses who need nourishment to heal. By providing medically tailored meals and nutrition education, we empower people to improve their health and quality of life. MANNA has been serving our neighbors for over 30 years. Founded by a small group of individuals to comfort their neighbors suffering from HIV/AIDS, MANNA is now a leading provider of medical nutrition services in Greater Philadelphia, and an advocate for the Food is Medicine movement nationwide. Deeply embedded in the local health community, we provide medical nutrition to people facing life-threatening illnesses.

 

Population served (25 words or less):

MANNA provides medically tailored meals and nutrition counseling to those with an acute nutritional need due to a serious illness regardless of income.

 

Geographic area(s) served: 

Greater Philadelphia Area and Southern New Jersey

In which Life Science Cares Area of Focus is your organization’s work primarily? 

Survival

 

Does the organization already receive support from or otherwise engage life science companies? If so, how? 

MANNA has received support from several life science companies over the years. While some have provided funding opportunities, including Janssen Biotech, Inc. and Novo Nordisk, others have provided human capital by way of volunteers for our kitchen and distribution. Volunteers help prepare, package and deliver our medically tailored meals to our clients. In just our last fiscal year, MANNA hosted 150 volunteers from life science organizations with representatives on the Life Sciences Cares Board of Advisors. Together they contributed over 470 hours with the largest contributors being Johnson & Johnson and KPMG. We welcome the opportunity to further grow our relationship within the life sciences community.

Please outline existing volunteer opportunities or programs & initiatives that harness human capital including any current virtual volunteer events:

Volunteers are essential to MANNA as we only have four full-time chefs and we deliver thousands of meals a week to our clients. Over the last year, more than 7,000 volunteers provided over 54,000 hours in our kitchen under the supervision of our ServSafe certified chefs, and delivered meals to clients throughout the greater Philadelphia area. As a response to the pandemic, MANNA has implemented changes to ensure the safety of our volunteers and staff. Appropriate masks must be worn at all times while in the building, high-touch surfaces are sanitized continuously, and the number of volunteers in the kitchen is limited to allow for 6ft social distancing while assembling meals. First-time volunteers can now complete their orientation training online so that they can be ready for their first shift when they arrive. Unfortunately, we do not currently have any virtual volunteer opportunities available.

MANNA also encourages volunteers to assist in the annual Pie in Sky fundraiser at Thanksgiving by preparing / packaging pies as well as selling pies. 

 

Please outline proposed or potential future volunteer opportunities or programs & initiatives that harness human capital including any planned virtual volunteer events:  

In response to the current pandemic, MANNA has seen a fluctuation in volunteers even while demand for our services continues to grow. In the future we hope to welcome back our corporate volunteer groups who are unable to participate at this time.

GRANT REQUEST 

Please signify the type of support you are requesting from Life Science Cares:

 

Programming (existing)

Project Title:

 

Medical Nutrition for People with Serious Illness

 

Total Project Budget (if applicable):

 

$6,873,412

Requested Amount:

 

$10,000

 

In which Life Science Cares Area of Focus is the requested project’s work?

 

Basic Human Survival

 

Description of Need (What is the issue you plan to address? What are the demographics and number of people you plan to serve, if applicable?):

 

The prevalence of serious illness in the United States is staggering compared to other developed nations. The Commonwealth Fund reports that “Compared to peer nations, the U.S. has among the highest number of hospitalizations from preventable causes and the highest rate of avoidable deaths.” According to the CDC, approximately 60% of adults have a chronic or serious disease, and 40% have two or more. These diseases often result in hospitalizations, long-term disability, and reduced quality of life. In fact, serious diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in the country. In Philadelphia, heart disease and cancer disproportionately affect low-income and marginalized communities and are among the leading causes of death. Unfortunately, these communities not only have a higher likelihood of these diseases, but also experience more barriers to receiving treatment.  Many chronic and serious illnesses are impacted by nutrition but accessing healthy foods can be difficult for families living paycheck to paycheck. One in four Philadelphians are food insecure, lacking access to grocery stores with healthy foods, or the funds to afford them. When someone who is food insecure also suffers from a serious illness the effects can be debilitating. Without the nutrients they need their health can deteriorate, decreasing their prospects for recovery and lowering their quality of life. Evidence shows that following a medically tailored diet can increase the effectiveness of medications and treatment while decreasing side effects. It’s also been shown to increase the body’s ability to recover and lower the likelihood of infection after surgery. Research also has shown significant reductions in hospitalizations and emergency department utilization. With nutrition serving such a powerful role in recovery, access to healthy foods and an understanding how to follow a prescription diet is critical to the healing process for those with critical illnesses.

Specific Activities (Please detail what activities you intend to undertake as a result of the grant. Include information about service delivery and timelines.):

 

MANNA’s comprehensive nutrition program helps people with serious illnesses get the nutrients they need to get well. The majority of our clients face an uphill battle to recovery, encountering systemic issues like poverty and food insecurity in addition to the usual side effects of the diseases they suffer and the difficult treatment regimens they need to follow. Often our clients struggle to understand and follow the meal plans prescribed by their doctors as the current health care industry doesn’t provide access to prescription diets as readily as prescription drugs. MANNA fills this gap in care by providing a two-pronged approach to medical nutrition needs. We combine home-delivered, medically tailored meals with nutrition counseling to ensure our clients get the nourishment they require and improve their understanding of their unique nutrition needs. Our program delivers 21 meals a week complete with fruit and nutritious deserts created by our in-house chefs and licensed dietitians. Working together, our team crafts delicious and nutritious meals that our clients love to eat.  MANNA offers 12 different diet options with the ability to select up to three modifications at a time. With so many different options, our dietitians can select the right combination for each client, addressing any co-conditions they have and side effects of their treatments. For example, people battling cancer must maintain a certain weight in order to withstand chemotherapy treatments, but the treatment can cause a lack of appetite, along with lack of energy and other side effects. Our meals allow for different modifications to assist in increasing and maintaining weight for our clients battling cancer while also removing barriers to healthy eating.

Evaluation (What are the anticipated results? What methods will you use to measure your progress? What does success look like?):

 

In FY21, MANNA will deliver more than 1.4 million meals to more than 4,600 clients. Funding will help support the program costs for the meals we will provide to our clients in the Greater Philadelphia Area. Through the work of our MANNA Institute, we collect both qualitative and quantitative information on the effectiveness of our program using validated tools and client surveys. In FY21, 85% of clients will report that MANNA helped them eat healthier foods and 85% will report that MANNA helped them improve their health. At the end of the program, 10% of clients initially screened positive for malnutrition will no longer be at risk and 10% will report an improvement in their physical health. Launched in March of 2019, the MANNA Institute is an independent research arm of MANNA and is led by Dr. Jule Anne Henstenburg, MS, RD, LDN, FAND. Since its launch, the Institute has revised our essential referral, intake, and recertification forms, and has also implemented additional validated tools to ensure that we capture accurate information from our clients. This is in addition to the standard client surveys we conduct to measure the quality of life standards for our clients.   MANNA’s referral forms include disease specific questions in order to best understand the unique nutritional needs of each client. The intake forms include additional screenings including: Malnutrition screen (MST © Abbott Laboratories), Physical health (PROMIS 2 a), Food insecurity screening (Hunger Vital Sign™), Medication adherence screening, and Hospitalization screening. An additional screening, Physical function (PROMIS short form 10b), is conducted at a later date. During the re-certification process we collect updated health data using similar tools in order to determine whether they have improved enough to no longer require our intervention services. We continue to experiment with additional types of measurements in order to discover what methods work for our clients and best indicate the true nature of our programmatic impact. 

Does this project already have support from life science companies? If so, what is the nature of that support?

 

As mentioned in our response to the RFI, MANNA has received support from several life science companies over the years. While some have provided funding opportunities, including Janssen Biotech, Inc. and Novo Nordisk, others have provided human capital by way of volunteers for our kitchen and distribution. Volunteers help prepare, package and deliver our medically tailored meals to our clients. In just our last fiscal year, MANNA hosted 150 volunteers from life science organizations with representatives on the Life Sciences Cares Board of Advisors. Together they contributed over 470 hours with the largest contributors being Johnson & Johnson and KPMG. We welcome the opportunity to further grow our relationship within the life sciences community. 

EFFECTIVENESS, COLLABORATION, INNOVATION

 

Is there any other information not captured elsewhere regarding your organization, project, program or initiatives that you believe will help the Life Science Cares team in evaluating your request?

 

MANNA’s research into the cost savings of comprehensive medical nutrition for people with serious illnesses, published in the Journal of Primary Care & Community Health in 2013, remains the gold standard for medically tailored meals research. Our study showed that having access to the nutritional food and counseling sessions from MANNA helps to lower overall health care costs by 28%, shorten the length of hospital stays by 37%, and increase the likelihood of being sent home rather to another care facility by 23%. To build on this research and continue to advocate for access to medically tailored meals as part of treatment for serious illnesses, we launched the MANNA Institute. The Institute is an independent research arm focused on assessing the impact of our program and contributing to the wider research on the effects of medically tailored meals and nutritional therapy in the treatment of illness.

 

How does your organization or program differentiate from other organizations doing similar work? Are you executing or proposing to executive an innovation in program or service?

 

MANNA’s program is the only comprehensive medical nutrition program in the Philadelphia area. Unlike traditional feeding programs that address food insecurity alone, MANNA provides all meals an individual requires for the length of time they are on our program – 21 meals each week. We also provide access to licensed dietitians and one-on-one nutritional counseling for free to all of our clients, which is still available after clients no longer qualify for the meals program. Another unique facet to our program is that we also provide meals to the dependents of our clients when needed. Many of MANNA’s clients are also care-givers – parents, grandparents, guardians etc. – for children and elderly members of their families. Those battling serious illness may find it difficult to cook or provide healthy meals to their families while undergoing treatment, so we provide their families with nutritious meals and remove that burden for them. Receiving meals for the whole family means that our clients can focus on getting well rather than worrying about how to feed those in their care.