A MANNA Client’s Newsletter to Friends

This month, we have a guest post from a MANNA client – Lou. He has been receiving MANNA meal deliveries for several months now, and sent this message to his family and friends after receiving his Thanksgiving meal. This is shared with Lou’s permission and excitement!

As most of you know, I’ve been receiving delivered meals from MANNA for several weeks now.

As an active client, I was one of over 1,800 fortunate individuals throughout the Delaware Valley who were eligible to receive their Thanksgiving meal on the holiday.  MANNA also baked 10,000 pies, and, from what I hear, they were all sold.

MANNA did a first-class, exemplary job of providing a delicious, bountiful meal intended to feed four people.  Every aspect of the service bespoke of quality—in the packaging, presentation and food preparation.  The delivery volunteer appeared promptly at 10:15 AM, wishing me a Happy Thanksgiving, with two large reusable cloth bags, adorned and imprinted with MANNA and Thanksgiving 2020 logos and text celebrating 30 years–filled with food.

There was a large aluminum pan filled with between 8 to 10 slabs (not slices)—some almost an inch thick—of tender, juicy, white turkey meat, adorned with green garnishes and a quarter of an orange in every corner.  There was a large turkey thigh basted or marinated in a tasty brine, which was in a separate plastic bag.  Altogether, half of a freshly roasted turkey was provided.

Also part of the meal was homemade turkey gravy, homemade cole slaw, four servings of delicious cornbread stuffing, seasoned mashed candied yams (delightful), seasoned and garnished green beans, whole cranberry sauce, a large garden salad with lettuce, olives, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, croutons and balsamic vinaigrette, a homemade bread box with four fresh Le Bus rolls, two large chocolate chip cookies, two large sugar cookies, a pumpkin loaf, and a full size MANNA apple pie with laced crust.

This would have been a fine feast for four people, but it kept me stuffed for four days.  My many thanks go to the folks who donate to this wonderful charity, or who volunteer in the food preparation and delivery.

This year, since there was no Thanksgiving Day parade down the Ben Franklin Parkway, it was reported on the news that some of the delivery vehicles were adorned with balloons and other decorations as they lined up outside MANNA’s nutrition center on North 20th Street, just off the Parkway, in the Art Museum/Fairmount District of the city.

MANNA gave me a wonderful Thanksgiving alone during this pandemic.  As they say, food is medicine, and food is also love.  Their outreach to the community with genuine love, caring, commitment and cheerful, due diligence is greatly appreciated with heartfelt gratitude.

MANNA, the Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance, greatly exemplifies and expresses the true Spirit of Philadelphia—the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.

I hope that you had an enjoyable Thanksgiving, and remain safe and well.


A Very Different Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and amidst the COVID-19 pandemic will look different for friends and families this year. Our traditional Thanksgiving may not be so traditional this year. Here are some ideas to brighten up the spirit of the holiday in your household:

  • Cook, pack, and drop off a Thanksgiving care package-To those who host Thanksgiving meals in their home, consider preparing for a large gathering as you typically would and safely package meals to go for your loved ones. On Thanksgiving Day do a drive by drop off your pre-packaged meals to those you would have at your house. If there is any extra food, consider making a care package to your elderly neighbor who may be isolated during these times.

  • Get creative with leftovers-We are all guilty of making the turkey sandwich the day after Thanksgiving. There is nothing wrong with this, but it can become boring after a while. Try using your Thanksgiving sides as leftovers. Make a turkey soup and add in your Thanksgiving green beans or use your stuffing to make a turkey casserole. Check out our Sweet Potato Muffins recipe to use your leftover sweet potatoes for a savory breakfast.

  • Make enough for one meal-If you are not too thrilled on the idea of eating leftovers, trim down your recipes to feed those in your household. Plan for 1- 1 ½ pounds of turkey per person when purchasing your bird or 5-8 pounds for 4-6 people. Use this website or Android app to enter your side dish recipes so you can adjust them accordingly: www.mykitchencalculator.com

  • Plan a virtual celebration-Many of us have utilized FaceTime and Zoom over the last several months to stay connected to family and friends. Try to incorporate a Thanksgiving tradition like watching a football game during a zoom call to catch up and partake in sports commentary with loved ones.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the Greater Philadelphia Area in many ways especially by increasing hunger in the community. If able, take the time to give back during the Thanksgiving and holiday seasons. One way is to participate in MANNA’s Pie in the Sky fundraiser. Each purchase or donation of a pie allows us to provide a Thanksgiving meal to our clients. This year we have the option for you to donate a pie to a partner non-profit organization to help with their Thanksgiving meal distributions. The deadline to order is Friday, November 20th and you can do so by going to www.mannapies.org

Another way to give back is by donating to your local food bank. Your donation will help keep their shelves stocked and able to meet the demand of the community. Some important items needed at food banks include:

  • Canned Vegetables
  • Nut butters
  • Cereal
  • Shelf-stable milk
  • Pasta and rice
  • Canned or dried beans
  • Canned fish and meat
  • Cooking oil
  • Canned or pre-packaged fruit
  • Broth or stock

Sweet Potato Muffins

Ingredients:  (makes 12 muffins)

· 1 1/2 cups of leftover mashed candied yams

· 1 cup of flour

· 1 tsp cinnamon

· 1/2 tsp baking soda

· 1/8 tsp baking powder

· 1/4 tsp salt

· 1/2 cup sugar

· 6 tbsp vegetable oil

· 1 egg


1. In a large bowl combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

2. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, oil, egg, and vanilla. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and then add the sweet potato.

3. Pour into greased muffin tins. Bake at 325°F for about 25-30 minutes.

Hospital Malnutrition Today and Bridging Gaps to the Community Tomorrow

In recognition of Malnutrition Awareness Week™, The MANNA Institute hosted its first Academic Seminar “Hospital Malnutrition Today and Bridging Gaps to the Community Tomorrow.” The online seminar featured speakers from Penn Medicine’s clinical nutrition department and highlighted the scope and impact of malnutrition in hospital settings. Over 80 professionals joined the meeting to learn more about promising practices in identifying, measuring, coding, and alleviating in-patient malnutrition.

MANNA’s Director of Research and Evaluation, Jule Anne Henstenburg, introduced speakers and moderated a lively question and answer session following the presentation. Kristen Dwinnells, Clinical Manager in Clinical Nutrition Support Services at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) was first to speak during the seminar, describing the modern day definition of malnutrition and its impact on outcomes and hospital costs. Dwinnells highlighted how HUP’s progressive nutrition program implemented the national consensus guidelines, leveraged the electronic medical record to collect data, and impacted provider identification and documentation of malnutrition.

Lauren Hudson, Assistant Executive Hospital Director and Director of Clinical Nutrition Support Services at HUP, followed by explaining the impact of enhanced identification and coding of malnutrition throughout the care process. Only after these documentation processes were well established could the team analyze and visualize the impact of moderate or severe malnutrition on hospital readmission rates and length of stay – measures that correlated directly with malnutrition severity.

With this data in hand, Hudson shared that the team will now focus on “Enhanced Nutrition Discharge” to improve continuity in care with electronic prescribing of diets and nutrition supplements. Hudson explained the importance of linking patients to community-based services at discharge, potentially connecting patients directly to MANNA’s medically tailored meal program to meet acute nutritional needs and reduce rates of readmission – a win for patients and providers alike.

The seminar underscored the significance of hospital malnutrition and the opportunities we have to address the problem, a timely reminder during ASPEN’s annual Malnutrition Awareness Week™ which concludes today. We hope you join the MANNA Institute for future seminars so we can continue learning from the experiences of nutrition experts and improve nutrition care for all. 

Quarantining in the Kitchen

The coronavirus has affected our lives and communities in many ways. One positive outlook from the quarantine is it made a lot of us become creative in our homes, especially our kitchens!

Here in the Nutrition department, we are managing an increase in phone calls from clients and prospective clients, an increase in referrals from hospitals, dialysis centers, doctors’ offices, and insurance companies, several remote nutrition counseling appointments, and the occasional kitchen shift.

In order to balance out some of our more hectic workdays, we have been extra creative in the kitchen when we get home. We would like to share some of our creations with you, along with 3 nutrition tips during this peculiar time. We hope that this sparks some creativity in your kitchens!

  1. No matter how little you are moving, your body still needs nutrition

As people on the internet are warning us against the “quarantine fifteen”, the pressure to stay fit is at an all time high. Remember that you do not have to do a push-up challenge, find a new hiking spot, or run a 5k to be healthy. You might find yourself moving your body much less. That is ok! You decide what works best for you.

No matter what, we need nutrition every day and throughout the day—regardless of whether that nutrition comes from a box, a can, or a bag. During a global pandemic, your brain has enough to think about. Try not to put added pressure on yourself by stressing over your food and exercise routines, or a lack thereof.

See some of our favorite recipes using non-perishable ingredients: Dietitian Emma’s sweet potato/black bean chili, Intake Specialist Kaitlan’s mac and cheese, Nutrition and Client Services Manager Tonya’s turkey tacos with canned veggies, and Nutritionist Addie’s homemade granola

      2. Have fun with your food!

You may be limiting your trips to the grocery store amidst the pandemic. You might have to rely more on non-perishable ingredients instead of fresh fruits and veggies. When you get to the store, your options may be limited. Or, you may rush through the store and forget a few items on your list.

This is your opportunity to recreate an episode of Chopped with the few ingredients that you have! Involve your kids in the kitchen. Have a “theme” night with the family — taco night, make your own pizza night, breakfast for dinner, appetizers for dinner. Have a child put their own recipe together, or participate in a “cook off”. Film a recipe video! 

Check out Client Services Coordinator Max’s homemade pizza night, Addie’s fruit and vegan cheese spread, Emma’s taco night, and Kaitlan’s breakfast tacos:

     3. Avoid judgment around food

Everybody has a different style of eating that works best for them. Some people may be stress eaters, while others lose their appetites with stress. Some people are relying mostly on convenience foods as their main source of nutrition. Some may not be able to afford much variety in their diets. Many of our clients are taking medications that make them nauseous, making crackers and dry toast staples in their diets. Some people are taking care of children all day and may serve frozen chicken nuggets for dinner 3 nights in a row.

This rule applies to life after coronavirus, but it is especially important now. We encourage you to give yourself and others permission to eat in a way that feels right to you. We are all in this together!

Here are some of our meals that have brought us comfort–Max’s cinnamon buns, Kaitlan’s (and Rutabaga’s) soup and grilled cheese, and Emma’s chocolate chip pancakes

If you’re looking to make some of these recipes at home, here are a few of them:

Addie’s Granola: https://www.thekitchn.com/granola-recipe-258376

Emma’s Black Bean & Sweet Potato Veggie Chili: https://www.eatingonadime.com/crock-pot-sweet-potato-black-bean-chili-recipe/

Kaitlan’s Breakfast Tacos: https://houseofyumm.com/breakfast-tacos/

Max’s Cinnamon Buns: https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/molasses-pecan-sticky-buns/

Tonya’s Taco’s with canned vegetables https://www.thesimpledollar.com/save-money/eight-cheap-and-tasty-taco-recipes/

Black Lives Matter

June 5, 2020

Dear Friends,

Our hearts are heavy this week, as our Philadelphia community joins with countless others across the country and around the world mourning the incomprehensible death of George Floyd. We stand in solidarity with those seeking justice for his death, and the deaths of countless others. We stand in solidarity with our Black staff, volunteers, and clients. Black lives matter.

We see the results of systematic oppression of the Black community in our work each and every day. Health disparities in communities of color continue to grow – as proven by the high COVID-19 infection and mortality rates in Black communities here in Philadelphia and across the country. Communities of color make up the majority of our clients. Our mission is to provide food as medicine. We believe everyone should have quality healthcare, despite racial inequities accessing proper nutrition. Addressing this important matter, among others will require taking a hard look at issues such as racism that cause these inequities in the first place.

From our location in Center City, we have seen thousands of people marching through the streets for justice. Though we are in our facility preparing meals and out on the roads delivering, please know that we are standing with you, shoulder to shoulder. We have great admiration for the organizations doing this work, and we know that we too have an important role to play in combating systemic racism.

Words can only go so far. MANNA is pledging to do more, and I hope you will join us. This week, we formalized a staff committee focused on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategies to set a path forward for our actions. This committee will also be seeking input from our volunteers and clients, and I look forward to sharing more information with you about how to get involved.

We cannot reverse the outcome of recent events, but we are committed and ready to do the work for meaningful change, so that health equity is achievable for all.

The MANNA community is truly a special one, and we are grateful to stand alongside you now. 

Stay Safe,

COVID-19 Update: April 17

April 17, 2020

Dear Friends,

MANNA is continuing to serve more clients than ever! MANNA has ordered a new delivery vehicle to meet this increase in demand. We are serving more than 1500 clients a week, which is a 20% increase in just one month.

Next week marks National Volunteer Appreciation Week. Usually, that is a big week of celebration at MANNA, honoring the over 10,000 volunteers who have donated their time to MANNA during the last year. While it looks a bit different for us this year, what remains the same is the passion and love that our volunteers put into our client meals each and every day.

I can’t help but feel that MANNA is so truly lucky to be part of a community that rallies around us and shows up when we need it most. From volunteers to supporters to donors to our friends on social media – we see you, we appreciate you, and we love you.

We can’t say it enough – volunteers are essential. Please join me next week in showing our volunteers some “virtual love” on our Facebook page.

As we sort out our new normal and what the coming year may hold, we know that one thing will not change: your incredible commitment to our mission.

From one of our clients, Mary:
“You don’t know how much of a blessing you are. I know everyone’s a volunteer, and I am just in awe. It is especially amazing now since I can’t go to the store. It’s just incredible.”

From another of our clients, Gwendolyn:
“Bless you for what you’re doing. I used to volunteer at MANNA years ago and now I’m getting the meals myself.” 

If you are able, I invite you to contribute to our efforts amidst this crisis by either joining us as a volunteer or making a donation.

From all of us – thank you and stay safe.

Best Regards,
Sue Daugherty, RDN LDN

COVID-19 Update: April 10

April 10, 2020

Dear Friends,

We’ve made it through another week! Thanks to the support from your generous donations and the hard work of 126 volunteers, we continue to deliver a record-breaking amount of meals.

We are working hard to make sure the operational changes we are making are sustainable, and we are so grateful that our community has responded in such an incredible way. From individuals and families to local businesses and national corporations, we are truly blown away.

Our clients have been calling to pass along their thanks to the entire MANNA family, and I wanted to pass along some of their messages.

First, a message from Jesse:

“The contactless delivery is so amazing. We are quarantined because of my chemo, and it’s so dangerous for me to have contact with anyone. The deliveries are consistent, and I love being able to wave and say thank you to the driver!

The food is restaurant quality – honestly. Second to none. I am so impressed. I am so grateful.

We really are stuck. We can’t go out at all – we can’t grocery shop. It’s impossible! Grocery shopping could kill me. I’m so shocked and impressed that my wife is able to get meals as well – I can’t thank you all enough for looking out for us.”

Our sweet client Gloria turns 81 this weekend. As is MANNA tradition, we sent a cake and a card this week. She shared:

“You made my day so happy for my 81st Birthday. I just want to say thank you for the birthday card, thank you for the birthday cake. You really made my 81st Birthday really special in the midst of all of this. To all of you – stay in good health. Thank you so much for your generosity, I do really appreciate it. God bless all of you.”

If you are looking for a way to help as the weeks turn into months, I ask that you please consider 
making a donation to support our efforts during this crisis. Thank you to the entire MANNA community for your support.

From all of us – thank you and stay safe.

Best Regards,
Sue Daugherty, RDN LDN

Additional Safety Measures

April 3, 2020

Dear Friends,

We are ending another successful week of delivering 34,545 meals to MANNA’s clients and their families. This is a significant increase from just one month ago, and a sign of the stress this current crisis is putting on our community. We are seeing demand for our services rise, and with your help we are doing our best to meet the need. I cannot stress enough how grateful we are for the unwavering support of our greater MANNA community.

We have one final operational update this week that we wanted to share with you.

As of today, Friday, April 3, all MANNA staff and volunteers will be wearing face masks in our facility and while out on deliveries. This is for the safety of our clients, volunteers, and staff. MANNA continues to enforce social distancing practices in our facility and our No-Contact delivery policy. The use of face masks is an additional health and safety measure.

We will be providing masks, but volunteers are also welcome to bring their own. Masks should be worn at all times while in our facility, and absolutely no volunteer or staff is allowed in our kitchen without a mask.

Using guidance from the World Health Organization, MANNA has developed specific face mask guidelines and protocol for MANNA volunteers and staff. When arriving for your shift, you must wait for a member of the Volunteer Services team to review kitchen safety and mask protocol with the entire shift’s volunteers as a group before entering the kitchen.

Earlier this week, a grandmother caring for her grandchildren told us “Can I just say that you are the greatest blessing ever? I give the meals 6 stars out of 5.”

Another client wanted to pass along that “this is the nicest thing anyone’s done for me… I feel like someone’s looking out for me.”

And finally, “please thank everyone involved. You’re really helping a lot of people like me who need it.”

Thank you to the entire MANNA community for your support. If you are looking for a way to help, I ask that you please consider making a donation to support our efforts during this crisis.

From all of us – thank you and stay safe.

Best Regards,

Sue Daugherty, RDN LDN


An Operational Update

March 31, 2020

Dear Friends,

We are so grateful for the outpouring of support we have received over the last few weeks, and are appreciative of your understanding as we work to be able to safely maintain our operations.

We are closely following local, state, and federal guidelines and are adapting each and every day to ensure the safety of our clients, volunteers, and staff.

We are continuing our “No Contact” client meal deliveries, and all client deliveries are proceeding on our normal schedule. We will also continue with our new hours of operation: Tuesday – Friday, opening at 7am and closing at 5pm.

We have made several changes to our operations and I wanted to outline them for you:

  • MANNA’s volunteer drivers will not enter MANNA’s facility during pickup. Instead, our Distribution team bring the client deliveries, as well as gloves, directly to their vehicles.
  • We are eliminating our 8am – 11am and 11am – 2pm volunteer shifts to allow us to best enforce social distancing in our kitchen. Remaining shifts have a hard cap at 15 volunteers per shift, to allow our chefs to space out volunteer tasks.
  • We have instituted a pre-shift questionnaire in VolunteerHub, and all volunteers must register at manna.volunteerhub.com. No walk-in volunteers are allowed. 

If you are looking for a way to help from home, I invite you to make a donation to support our efforts.

From the whole MANNA team – thank you so much.

Best Regards,

The Latest Update from MANNA

March 24, 2020

Dear Friends,

We are strengthened by your incredible support over the last few weeks – your volunteer hours, donations, and social media love are helping us navigate this ever-changing time. Thank you so much.

Last Thursday, I was honored to be asked by the City of Philadelphia to represent the extraordinary community of non-profits in Philadelphia and speak about the importance of supporting our neighbors during this crisis. We were thrilled that city officials repeated that MANNA is an essential service provider and MANNA staff and volunteers are essential personnel.

I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on MANNA’s operations:

All client deliveries are proceeding as scheduled. Client deliveries take place Tuesday – Friday, and MANNA clients receive one delivery of 21 meals per week per client. We are continuing our “No Contact” deliveries for the safety of our clients and drivers. All clients also received their shelf-stable emergency meal box of one week’s worth of meals.

Until further notice, MANNA will be closed on Mondays. This will have no impact on our client deliver schedule, and will allow us to take further precautions in keep our staff and volunteers safe and healthy. We will continue our Tuesday through Friday volunteer shifts – though as previously announced, our evening volunteer shifts are eliminated until further notice. We appreciate your understanding of our evolving needs and schedule.

Though we are limiting the number of volunteers allowed in the kitchen at one time, we are inviting volunteers who are feeling healthy and not considered especially high risk by the CDC, to join us in the kitchen or on a delivery shift. Available shifts can be viewed at manna.volunteerhub.com, or give us a call at (215) 496-2662 x3.

MANNA was founded thirty years ago in the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis here in Philadelphia. A group of dedicated, passionate volunteers came together in a time of incredible fear and uncertainty. Coming together in a crisis is exactly what brought MANNA to life, and is exactly what will get us through this.

If you are looking for a way to help from home, I invite you to make a donation to support our efforts.

I thank you again for your support.

Best Regards,

Sue Daugherty, RDN LDN