Sue Daugherty, RD, LDN, CEO of Manna, discussed the agency, providing food as medicine to people with life-threatening illness. Started as a ‘buddy’ program that offered visitation and food for people with HIV or AIDS, it evolved as treatment allowed these pateints to live an active, longer life. MANNA began to offer its services to people with cancer, renal failure or heart conditions, calling themselves the ‘pharmacy; for your prescriptive diet. MANNA offers 11 different diets, addressing low sodium, high calorie, low fat, no potassium, and other diietary restrictions. Sue noted that pateints are often released from the hospital with a strict diet – one they cannot – even if healthy – produce on their own. She also noted that people with chronic illness are among the poorest, and getting proper nitrition to improve health and prevent additional care is expensive. There s no charge for the service and cClients come through doctor or social worlker referral, or by the patient him or herslf. The fuigures they post note that MANA clients visit the hospital 50% less than a like-patient, their hospital stays are 37% shorter and 20% are likely to be discharged to their home, avoiding rehab or nursing home care costs. The MANNA cost savings are estimated to tbe 28%. Sue is proud that insurance companies are starting to notice and that through contracts they now ship meals across PA and home-deliver to eight counties. Clients receive three meals a day, every day of the week, and food is also provided for the client’s dependents to ensure that they do not share their food with children or an elderly parent. Meal rotation is greater than the average home – breakfast alone isn’t repeated for ten days, and chef deveolped to taste good. Meals are prepared, packaged and delivered by the 150 voulunteers needed every day. Individuals, schools and businesses can sign up to help work the kitchens.
MANNA relies on grants, some insurance reembursement, and donations. They also produce events throughout the year, including Shut Up and Dance, a one-night-only show produced by the dancers of the PA Ballet, a 5K and the annual Pie in the Sky pie sale, where thousands of pies are baked by volunteers and sold for Thanksgiving.
For more information about services, volunteer opportunities and special events visit MANNAPA.org.