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National Leaders Focused on Health Equity Gather in New Orleans to Address Social Determinants of Health

Pennsylvania’s Health Partners Plans (HPP) and Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance (MANNA) Share Pioneering Food Is Medicine Partnership

 Philadelphia, PA — As the nation grapples with the financial costs and human toll of social barriers to health, such as food and housing insecurity, national leaders will gather in New Orleans to share strategies for alleviating health disparities at the Third Annual National Summit on the Social Determinants of Health, October 7 – 9.

The Root Cause Coalition, a nonprofit organization working to achieve health equity through cross-sector collaboration, will host leaders from the health care, academic, government, business and nonprofit sectors to share best practices of addressing social determinants of health. Presentations will focus on a broad range of topics, from a care model for the homeless to transportation in rural communities.

One presentation will focus on a pioneering partnership between a community nonprofit and a managed care organization that provides medically tailored meals to chronically ill people which has improved their health outcomes and reduced medical costs. Since 2015 Health Partners Plans, HPP, an innovative Pennsylvania managed care organization, and the Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance, MANNA, have delivered more than 610,500 meals to more than 2,400 Medicare and Medicaid members.

“Though doctors have long prescribed special diets for certain patients, traditionally there hasn’t been a way to fill such ‘prescriptions’ and have the costs covered by insurance,” said Catherine McCarron, HPP Vice President of Clinical Programs, Medicaid. “However, this changed when HPP and MANNA partnered in 2015 to provide medically tailored meals to chronically ill people. MANNA provides the meals, and HPP compensates MANNA.”

This model has proven effective, as research has shown decreased utilization of inpatient admissions and emergency room visits, an overall medical cost reduction per member per month of 20 percent and lower blood glucose levels for 24 percent of diabetic members. (To learn more, read “Food Is Medicine Model.”)  

Ms. McCarron and Sue Daugherty, CEO of MANNA, will discuss the development of this innovative food is medicine partnership, its challenges and successes in a fireside chat on Oct. 8.

“As national interest grows in addressing food insecurity to improve people’s health and to reduce health care spending, we urge stakeholders to adopt this successful medically tailored meals program,” said Ms. Daugherty.


Founded in 1990 as a grassroots response to the AIDS crisis, in 2006 MANNA expanded eligibility criteria to include anyone battling a severe illness where diet would play a significant role in healing, and began offering comprehensive nutrition to each client in 2008. Over the years, MANNA has embraced innovation and evolved into a nationally recognized, evidence-based model that improves health outcomes for people with any serious illness while also reducing the cost of care. The MANNA Model consists of 21 medically tailored meals per week coupled with nutrition counseling provided by a registered dietitian and is an effective health intervention grounded in the latest nutrition science. In 2013, MANNA published the first peer-reviewed research documenting the impact of medical nutrition therapy and home-delivered medically tailored meals as part of medical treatment. Learn more about MANNA’s innovated approach to nutrition at,, and


Health Partners Plans is a not-for-profit managed care organization, renowned for addressing food insecurity through its groundbreaking medically tailored meals program. It is the only Medicaid plan in Pennsylvania and is among just 8 Medicaid plans nationwide with an accreditation status of Excellent as of September 12, 2018. This is the highest status bestowed by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA.) Health Partners Plans serves more than 280,000 members in Southeastern Pennsylvania. It provides a broad range of health coverage options through its Health Partners Medicare, Health Partners (Medicaid) and KidzPartners (Children’s Health Insurance Program) plans. Founded more than 30 years ago, Health Partners Plans is one of the few hospital-owned health plans in the country. Learn more about how Health Partners Plans is doing it right at, and

Monet T. Irving 

Director, Corporate Communications