MANNA is a non- profit organization located in Philadelphia that has been open since 1990. The organization engages in the preparation and delivery of medically appropriate meals to any individual at nutritional risk due to a chronic illness such as kidney or heart disease, cancer, and HIV/AIDS (MANNA, 2018).
The organization believes that food is medicine and it helps in the recovery process. According to register dietitian Bareuther (2009), besides limiting alcohol consumption, smoking cessation and psychical activity, a healthful diet plays a vital role in improving health, slowing and ease disease progression.
MANNA serves its clients twenty-one frozen meals per week along with nutrition counseling provided by register dietitian. It acknowledges that every disease requires different nutrients; therefore, with the predetermined knowledge, MANNA offers eleven modified diets that suit each disease. Meals are cooked by chefs then packed by volunteers and delivered to nine counties in Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey.
Additionally, the organization accepts membership from diverse individuals irrespective of socio-economic background, gender, age or race. It does not discriminate, prejudice or marginalize any person. Their clients consist of vulnerable people who are lacking sufficient money to live and suffering from malnutrition due to severe illnesses (Meridell, 2013). There are some indications such as wound care, recovery from surgery or the start of chemotherapy to qualify a person for the service.
The nutrition service is not always available in the health care system for many people; thus, MANNA’s vision is for the healthcare to recognize food as part of the patients treatment so they can expand their service nationwide. The organization is being promoted during events along with fundraising activities to help achieve goals. By providing meals to people who are the most risk for malnutrition it will help in reducing hospital visits which leads to a decrease in the cost of healthcare.
I have noticed that an obstacle for potential health disparities, is that a vulnerable person who lives in a rural area does not have accessibility or availability to a health care system are at higher risk for poor nutrient intake (Meridell, 2013).
These people tend to have a lack of nutrition education or cannot obtain food due to economic barriers (Gracias, 2013). For instance, there is not a local grocery store or lack of public transportation for them to get there and purchase the necessities needed. Because of the MANNA organization, these people can stay healthy. Effective communication and collaborative practice are crucial to improving population health.
There was great teamwork with all the volunteers that day and with our efforts many clients who suffered from chronic illness and malnutrition were able to get nutritious meals prepared. The group of volunteers varied in age and ethnicity, but we had the same goal to help other people who are in need.
This experience will help me in my nursing career to enhance positive outcomes for patients by working and communicating effectively with other health care providers. It has shown me that when people work together in a positive way the impact can be much greater then one person alone.
Finally, the experience made me realize how many people out there struggle with life or are unable to obtain healthy food due to lack of transportation and low income. It is important to educate patients that not only proper nutrition prevents disease but also plays a vital role in the recovery process and ensure that they are aware of the consequences (Meridell, 2013).
Due to poor economic status, people are not aware of organizations such as MANNA who delivers meals; thus, providing sources where they can get proper nutrition to improve their health is important. As a nurse, I can print out and highlight resources for my patients or contact a service worker who can help. It was a great experience and looking forward doing again next semester.