January 12, 2023

MANNA Hosts Legislative Open House

Our ongoing efforts to improve the health outcomes of MANNA’s clients through nutritious meals also includes research, education, and advocacy. Through our work at the MANNA Institute, we’ve seen increasing evidence that individuals who receive MANNA’s services experience improved health, quality of life, and dietary intake. However, we continue to need policy changes to make medically tailored meals more accessible for all those who could benefit from them.

To that end, we were excited to hold a Legislative Open House at MANNA in December, where we hosted state and federal officials to further the conversation on the importance of making medically tailored meals a standard benefit under public health plans. The Open House was co-hosted by Representative Donna Bullock and the office of Congressman Dwight Evans, and featured a roundtable discussion, as well as an opportunity for leaders to volunteer in our kitchen.

As a group, we discussed MANNA’s work with some of our region’s Medicaid plans, H.R. 5370 (the Medically Tailored Home-Delivered Meals Demonstration Pilot Act of 2021), and potential state partnerships to broaden access to the work we do. The engaging discussion provided opportunity for elected officials, staff members, and MANNA leaders together to brainstorm mechanisms for policy change, including potential pilot program funding, to make it easier for health plans to offer medically tailored meals to their members as a reimbursable medical expense.

“Today was a great day of learning and service that hopefully we can turn into policy,” said Representative Bullock. “We are at a time when the Commonwealth has the resources to advance a program in which we recognize the value, and we know has proven records of being successful.”

Representative Darisha Park, also in attendance, added, “We need to make sure we are educating our health providers about ways to use nutritious foods as medicine. It is our job as legislatures to make sure we are passing legislation as it relates to nutrition interventions to provide opportunities for everyone, regardless of their zip code, to have access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food.”

I share the enthusiasm and optimism of both Representative Bullock and Representative Parker and hope this is only the first of many constructive discussions with our elected officials in 2023.

In addition to Representatives Bullock and Parker, roundtable discussion attendees also included Representative Lisa Borowski, District 168; Representative Danilo Burgos, District 197; Representative Morgan Cephas, District 192; Representative Roni Greene, District 190; Representative Joseph Hohenstein, District 177; Representative Jordon Harris, District 194; Representative Malcolm Kenyatta, District 181; Representative Tarik Khan, District 194; Representative Napoleon Nelson, District 154; Representative Ben Sanchez, District 153; and Representative Regina Young, District 185. In addition, Gueorgui Tochev attended on behalf of Appropriations Chair Matthew Bradford; Alec Silvera attended on behalf of Congressman Brendon Boyle; and Anuj Gupta attended on behalf of Congressman Dwight Evans.