As you know, MANNA delivers complete nutrition to critically ill people at acute nutritional risk by providing them 3 meals a day, 7 days a week, but are you aware of how our clients come to MANNA or what happens when they leave our program?
MANNA’s clients are referred to us by a variety of sources. While in treatment for a life-threatening illness, a client’s doctor, dietitian, or other medical professional completes a simple referral form that includes information such as the diagnosis, weight, lab test results, and a few other key items. MANNA’s Registered Dietitians then speak with both the medical professional and the individual to confirm eligibility, provide nutrition counseling, and schedule the first meal delivery. Clients are initially enrolled in the meal program for a six month period, as our medically tailored meals are meant to be a temporary support to improve our clients’ health and empower them to fight their illness. As the end of their service period approaches, our Dietitians ensure that the client has become nutritionally stable before discharging them from the program. Depending on their condition, the Dietitian may recertify the client, extending the service until they achieve optimal nutritional health.
While the goal at MANNA is for clients to remain happy and healthy long after their experience on our meal program, we understand it can be difficult to deal with an illness without support. That’s why, as a part of our discharge protocol, we work to connect our clients with resources they may need. Former clients are always welcome to take advantage of the same free Nutrition Counseling Services they use while on the meal program. They are also given access to other local organizations that can assist them with both medical needs and food insecurity issues.
Resources such as the Greater Philadelphia AIDS Resource Guide, the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, and PhillyFoodFinder.org, a recently launched website that serves as a hub for anti-hunger locations (i.e. a searchable map for summer meals, farmers markets, food pantries, SHARE host sites, soup kitchens, etc.) are just some of those who support MANNA’s clients’ needs. In addition, we are currently evaluating options for moving to electronic medical records so that we have the most comprehensive information available to our clients and their care providers. Nothing makes us happier than when clients are healthy enough to leave our program, except maybe knowing that we will never leave them.
We are lucky to have interns who make an important impact at MANNA. Interns such as Lisa Wartemberg, an M.S.Ed student in the International Education Development Program at The University of Pennsylvania and Samantha Mogil, an M.S. student in the Human Nutrition Program at Drexel University. Lisa and Samantha recently completed a research project collecting and analyzing data on our referral process. They developed an online survey which was sent to more than 200 health care providers and referral sources and then spent two months evaluating the responses.
The survey provided MANNA with robust information that our staff will use to help to develop a more efficient outreach protocol, including best practices for and times of the year to provide outreach, a more streamlined referral form, and a reference chart to help service providers clarify client eligibility criteria. Using these tools, health care providers will be able to make more informed decisions when referring clients to MANNA, helping to stabilize our client numbers and ensuring that our services are provided to the individuals who need them most.
We cannot thank Lisa and Samantha enough for their contributions to MANNA and our clients.
If you are interested in interning at MANNA, please visit our career page for open opportunities.
June is AIDS Education Month. More than 1 million people in the United States are living with HIV/AIDS and 1 in 5 do not know their status. In Philadelphia, the HIV rate is 5 times the national average. Raising awareness of HIV/AIDS, spreading accurate information and making resources available are key to helping stop the spread of infection. At MANNA, we teach our clients living with HIV/AIDS how to effectively manage their condition and nutrition is a key component especially as the diseases changes or progresses. In these circumstances issues like weight loss, taste changes, nausea and mouth soreness need to be addressed. Proper nutrition addresses weight issues, immune system complications and individual dietary needs that can help provide a better quality of life.
Nutrition therapy for individuals living with HIV/AIDS should focus on a balanced diet. Eating a variety of healthy foods will replace essential vitamins and minerals that may be lost during the disease process, help maintain and strengthen immune function to fight the disease and help your body respond better to treatment. Here are some healthy eating tips if you’re living with HIV/AIDS:
- Include items from each of the five food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy. Choose low-fat dairy and lean proteins as much as possible.
- Eat enough calories to maintain a healthy weight
- Choose healthy fats like those found in olive oil, avocado, walnuts, tuna and salmon
- Limit saturated fats and trans fats which are found in processed foods, some red meat and full-fat dairy. Instead, opt for low-fat sources of dairy and lean protein such as low-fat milk, chicken, turkey and fish.
- Drink enough fluids. Choose healthy options like water, low-fat milk or occasionally 100% fruit juice instead of soda, energy drinks, or other sugary beverages
- Protein needs are slightly higher in individuals living with HIV/AIDS. Make sure you’re getting enough protein each day by choosing items like lean meats, eggs, low-fat dairy and beans
- Try to engage in regular exercise. Physical activity can improve muscle mass, decrease weakness, improve mood and improve quality of life. Good options include walking, biking, yoga or joining an exercise class.
MANNA is committed to helping individuals living with HIV/AIDS get the proper nutrition they need to gain strength, build a better immune system and live a better quality of life.
AIDSEducationMonth.Org. What is Aids Education Month? Available at https://www.aidseducationmonth.org/about/. Accessed 28 May 2015.
EatRight.Org. Nutrition and HIV-AIDS. 1 Feb. 2014. Available at http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/diseases-and-conditions/hiv-aids/nutrition-and-hiv-aids. Accessed 28 May 2015.