December 7, 2023

The MANNA Institute Issues $400,000 Award to Fund Vital Nutrition Research at Jefferson Health

The research, led by Dr. Kristin Rising, will refine a screening tool for streamlining patient access to nutrition support

The MANNA Institute has awarded $400,000 to Jefferson Health’s Clinician Investigator Kristin Rising, M.D., M.S.H.P., Director of the Jefferson Center for Connected Care and Professor of Emergency Medicine for her project, “Nutrition Support Assessment Tool (NSAT) Refinement and Pilot Implementation Trial.” The project will test and refine the NSAT as a screening tool to identify individual patients’ nutrition needs, with the goal of developing a process for Jefferson Health and other health systems to make more efficient and effective referrals to community nutrition organizations for hospitalized patients in need of nutrition support.

This study follows a previous award granted by The MANNA Institute, in which Dr. Rising was funded for the study, “Identifying & Testing Patient-Important Outcomes to Assess the Efficacy of Medically Tailored Meals for Oncology Patients.” The study found that patients with cancer defined nutrition interventions as successful when they play a role in weight maintenance, improved food satisfaction and intake, and improved quality of life. The work also concluded that a measurement tool was needed to assess the impact of nutrition interventions on the needs of patients with cancer, which is what the newly funded project will examine.

“We are very excited to continue this essential research with Dr. Rising and Jefferson Health,” said MANNA Institute Director Jule Anne Henstenburg, Ph.D., R.D.N., L.D.N., F.A.N.D. “As we work to advance the practice of improving health and quality of life for people with serious illnesses through medically tailored meals and nutrition education, we need to continuously advocate for better access to MANNA’s program for those who will benefit from it. The findings from Dr. Rising’s research will enable nutrition intervention providers like MANNA to create partnerships with clinicians, like those at Jefferson, to ultimately increase access to food as medicine to improve patient health outcomes.”

Dr. Rising and her team developed the NSAT as a systematic approach to providing individualized nutrition referrals, in which different patient needs, including medical, nutritional and social, are incorporated into nutrition referral decisions such as medically tailored meals, grocery boxes, or food vouchers. This new research project will include patient interviews to inform refining the NSAT and then an implementation trial, in which the NSAT will be used to guide referrals to nutrition-related services to a set of Jefferson patients.

In addition, Dr. Rising’s team will monitor the entire nutrition services referral process and will follow and re-evaluate patients over the subsequent 4 months to determine the specific service durations that maximize health benefits. They will also explore the feasibility of transitioning patients from one service to another as needs change and conduct long-term follow up with patients to identify factors that either assisted or created barriers to nutrition services for patients.

“I’m grateful for The MANNA Institute’s generous award to fund this new project,” said Dr. Rising. “I am very excited for this work, in which we will refine and test the NSAT as a means of improving patient access to needed nutritional support. With this critical research, we can continue to help patients who experience nutrition-related challenges to address their immediate nutrition needs, with the goal of improving their health outcomes and overall quality of life.”

This work will help ensure that patients who are in most need of, and therefore most likely to benefit from, can access MANNA’s medically tailored meals and nutrition counseling services, which have been found to reduce the proportion of MANNA clients at-risk for malnutrition by 34%. The research will also shape MANNA’s approach to referring individuals to other nutrition resources once they come to the end of their prescribed MANNA meals.

This award is made possible with the generous support of the MANNA Institute “Founding Eight,” individuals who provided philanthropic funding to help establish the MANNA Institute and support its research projects.

For more information about the MANNA Institute, visit To learn more about the Jefferson Center for Connected Care, please visit


About Jefferson
Nationally ranked, Jefferson, which is principally located in the greater Philadelphia region and southern New Jersey, is reimagining health care and higher education to create unparalleled value. Jefferson is more than 42,000 people strong, dedicated to providing the highest-quality, compassionate clinical care for patients; making our communities healthier and stronger; preparing tomorrow’s professional leaders for 21st-century careers; and creating new knowledge through basic/programmatic, clinical and applied research. Thomas Jefferson University, home of Sidney Kimmel Medical College and the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce, dates back to 1824 and today comprises 10 colleges and three schools offering 200 undergraduate and graduate programs to more than 8,400 students. Jefferson Health, nationally ranked as one of the top health care systems in the country and the largest provider in the Philadelphia area, serves patients through millions of encounters each year at 17 hospitals (10 are Magnet® designated by the ANCC for nursing excellence) and over 50 outpatient and urgent care locations throughout the region. Health Partners Plans is a not-for-profit managed health care organization providing a broad range of health coverage options in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for more than 35 years.


About the Jefferson Center for Connected Care

The Jefferson Center for Connected Care, directed by Dr. Kristin Rising, works to develop and test innovative approaches to build a more patient-responsive care delivery system. It promotes integration of research with innovative interprofessional clinical care initiatives across Jefferson Health and the broader Philadelphia landscape, supporting development and testing of innovative approaches for a patient-responsive care delivery system. The ultimate goal is to develop replicable and sustainable models to reduce and ultimately eliminate disparities in health outcomes.