During Challenging Time for Volunteers, MANNA Maintains Services And Meets Increased Demand

Well-known and widely respected HSX member MANNA (the Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance) faced the challenge of continuing and expanding delivery of meals to the homebound ill during the COVID-19 outbreak — even while social distancing affected its reliance on volunteer shifts and challenged its model of close team work in its kitchen, supplies, and shipping.  But MANNA and its supporters rose to the needs of the alliance’s served population with these achievements:

  • MANNA forged forward by rallying tremendous community response, continuing to function around the clock, and going into increased meal production, despite experiencing an initial significant drop in volunteers and having to place the utmost importance on the safety its kitchen teams and its delivery clients.
  • In the initial two months of the pandemic, starting in March, MANNA was able to maintain its services to its existing recipients, while absorbing a 43 percent increase in client numbers.  With the help of rapid upwelling of volunteer drivers, the total weekly meals delivered by the alliance went up by about a third to a record-breaking 37,000+ per week.
  • MANNA also bolstered its delivery of meals to children and dependents of its clients, hoping to ease the strain on mothers, fathers, and caretakers during the viral emergency.  This included more than 14 thousand meals delivered to these dependents.  One such client supported with daily deliveries, for example, was a mother of four, fighting stage-4 metastatic breast cancer.

Philadelphia-based vendors, including grocer groups and others, ensured that MANNA’s supply chain remained strong and that the alliance was able to source important products without significant interruption.  And as always, MANNA had the advantage of the HSX Encounter Notification service, which alerts its dietary staff of a change in status of their clients resulting in or from an admission, discharge, or transfer at virtually any regional facility.  While accommodating at least 65 different prescribed diets each and every day, the dietitians had another important tool: query access to HSX’s Clinical Data Repository for quick look-up of a client’s recent medical history.

“We have been strengthened by incredible support over these months.  And we thank everyone so much,” said MANNA’s CEO, Sue Daugherty, in a video message to the region.  “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 current public health emergency.”

By the end of May 2020, MANNA as an organization had delivered its 17 millionth meal.

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