June 15, 2023

We’re Halfway Through 2023: Let’s Revisit What’s Happened

From the second-ever White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health to the Legislative Open House MANNA hosted with Representative Donna Bullock and Congressman Dwight Evans, 2022 saw major progress in furthering conversation around the impact of medically tailored meals (MTMs) on those living with serious illnesses. During the first half of 2023, we witnessed sustained momentum in this space through Food is Medicine-focused conferences, new bills, and more. As we continue to advocate for access to MTMs for all who need them, we’d like to recognize milestones achieved so far this year.

Looking Back at the Last Six Months

Pennsylvania’s Medically Tailored Meals Pilot Program

The House Bill 667 (HB 667) was officially introduced in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in early April. This bill would allow hospitals statewide to refer qualified individuals for MTM programs and nutrition counseling, which would greatly increase ease of access to better nutrition. HB 667 was introduced along with a companion resolution encouraging health insurers to provide coverage for MTMs for Pennsylvania beneficiaries.

If HB 667 is passed, it will show that by providing MTMs to those who need them, we can lower hospital admissions, improve health outcomes, and save money. If you haven’t already, we urge you to join us by contacting your elected officials to support the passing of HB 667.

Conferences, Events and Other

  • Nutrition Roundtable with Assistant Secretary for Health, Admiral Rachel L. Levine, MD (April 21): MANNA’s Director of Nutrition & Client Services, Nicole Laverty, RDN, LDN, was invited to participate in a nutrition roundtable with US Assistant Secretary for Health, Admiral Rachel L. Levine, MD. Roundtable discussion centered around hunger and nutrition policy, nutritional trends, how to work more holistically with clients, and what role the federal government can play in these topics.
  • Food is Medicine National Summit: Transforming Healthcare (April 26): I attended and participated in the Food Is Medicine (FIM) National Summit, hosted by The Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and the Food & Nutrition Innovation Institute at Tufts University. My panel, “How Community Centered Programs are Building the Infrastructure,” explored how community-based Food is Medicine programs — like MANNA’s — serve as a key source of best practices and evidence to inform larger scale expansion.
  • Local Roundtable with PA Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (May 3): MANNA’s Nutrition & Client Services Manager, Tonya Cooper, RDN, LDN, participated in a roundtable aimed at investigating the impact of February’s end of SNAP Emergency Allotments on local communities in the Greater Philadelphia area. Hosted by Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, members from several nonprofit agencies and others convened to generate deeper understanding around the effects of the end of this policy.
  • The New Normal: Convergence of Traditional Care & New Technologies Post-Covid (June 13): I attended and delivered the keynote speech at The New Normal half-day conference hosted by The Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies (PACT).
  • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS): I and MANNA’s Director of Policy & Strategic Partnerships, Ann Hoskins-Brown, met with Meena Seshamani, MD, PhD, Director of Medicare for CMS to discuss opportunities for incorporating medically tailored meals within the various innovation models either underway or in the planning phases.
  • PA Department of Human Services (PADHS): We also met with the PA Department of Human Services to discuss MANNA’s impact and current work with MCOs in the state and potential opportunities to expand the service.
  • The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI): MANNA’s Director of Policy & Strategic Partnerships, Ann Hoskins-Brown, together with other FIMC representatives and Root Cause Coalition members, met with Sarah Downer at CMMI to discuss how health-related social needs can be addressed in future pilots or model programs. They also discussed various barriers faced by community-based organizations when they partner with payers and how CMS/CMMI might help address these barriers.
  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Members from our team also met with Jeanne Blankenship, Vice President, Policy Initiatives and Advocacy at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, to discuss opportunities for collaboration and how to highlight the critical role of dietitians in the Food is Medicine movement.

Media Appearances and Interviews:

What’s to Come

I am excited to have the opportunity to represent MANNA at a variety of conferences and events over the next few months, including:

  • June 27, 2023: Panelist for Philadelphia Philanthropy Forum co-hosted by CSS and Jefferson Health
  • October 7-10, 2023: Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo hosted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

I’d like to take a moment to recognize the organizations, government officials, and partners across the nation who are part of the Food is Medicine movement and who are helping us make a lasting impact on the healthcare industry. MTMs are being recognized more and more as a critical component of treatment, but there is still work that needs to be done for this service to become a covered benefit under health insurance. MANNA looks forward to the additional opportunities that will take place throughout the remainder of the year to further the conversation on making MTMs a standard benefit under public health plans.