December 16, 2022
2022: A Landmark Year for Food is Medicine
As 2022 draws to a close, we look back at the tremendous progress made this year to more fully realize the impact of medically tailored meals (MTMs) on those living with serious illnesses. We also look ahead to our goals for the Food is Medicine movement in 2023 and how we will continue our important work to advocate for access to MTMs for all who need them as a reimbursable medical expense.
This past year was one of incredible momentum for Food is Medicine, with several major milestones that reinforced the impact of MTMs and nutrition education. Some key milestones included:
White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Heath:
In September, the Biden Administration hosted the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, the first conference of its kind in more than 50 years, with the goal of ending hunger and reducing diet-related disease by 2030. One outcome of this historic conference was the launch of an effort to increase the number of Medicaid pilot programs and passage of federal legislation that would allow traditional Medicare plans to offer MTMs as a reimbursable medical expense as part of a pilot program.
The White House has gathered $8 billion in commitments to improve food and nutrition security in the U.S. and there is already an incredibly impressive list of business, civic, academic, and philanthropic leaders committed to taking action to help achieve the Conference’s goal, including many that will expand access to and funding for MTMs.
Come to the Table: USDA’s National Nutrition Security and Healthcare Summit
The month following the White House Conference the USDA hosted “Come to the Table,” a National Nutrition Security and Healthcare Summit. Here, more than 200 healthcare, federal, and community leaders came together to advance the Summit’s goals of ensuring all Americans have the resources necessary to eat nutritious foods that support good health.
MANNA Legislative Open House
Building on this momentum, MANNA is set to host a Legislative Open House on Tuesday, December 20. Co-hosted by Representative Donna Bullock and Congressman Dwight Evans, the event will include a tour of MANNA and community service opportunity, as well as discussion of MANNA’s mission, services, and our impact on healthcare outcomes and costs. In addition, we will have the opportunity to share with attendees how MANNA works with some of the region’s Medicaid plans, meaningful opportunities that might be on the horizon like H.R. 5370 (Medically Tailored Home-Delivered Meals Demonstration Pilot Act of 2021), and potential state partnerships to bring MTMs to more people who need them.
Research continues to point to the undeniable correlation between nutrition and overall health, and further, the tremendous healthcare costs that could be offset by expanding access to MTMs. Most recently, Tufts University’s School of Nutrition Science and Policy released research that “modeled the 1- and 10-year impacts of a national MTM program on hospitalizations, healthcare expenditures, and costs for Medicare, Medicaid, and private payers.” The study found that if all 6.3 million eligible individuals received MTMs, the net cost savings resulting from prevented hospitalizations would be $13.6 billion in the first year and $185.1 billion over ten years. These findings are in line with MANNA’s original research, which found that our clients’ average monthly healthcare costs were approximately $13,000 less after starting our service — a 31% cost savings. In addition, those clients’ rate of hospitalization was 50% lower, and those who were hospitalized had stays that were 37% shorter.
Looking ahead to 2023, we will continue building on the momentum from this past year’s major milestones. Food is Medicine is now at the forefront of national conversations, and we are excited for the possibilities a broader platform can provide. We see MANNA’s role in this space as increasingly important, as we not only continue to prepare and deliver nutritious meals and counseling to a growing client base, but also as researchers building the evidence base for MTMs and advocates for policy change.
MANNA is currently in the process of a several research studies , which will further support the role that optimal nutrition plays as a driver of positive health outcomes and better disease management, which lead to decreased use of healthcare services and lower healthcare costs. By advancing research, we hope policymakers will more clearly see the efficacy of MTMs and institute necessary policy changes so they can become a covered benefit for all who need them.
We look forward to hosting more educational events, such as our ongoing Academic Seminar Series led by the MANNA Institute, as well as our annual Nourish Series in conjunction with National Nutrition Month® in March. We will continue to forge new partnerships, educate and learn from our peers, gather evidence, and advocate for change as we collectively work toward a healthcare system that recognizes the healing efforts of proper food and nutrition for all.
We are ready for all that 2023 has in store.