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Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD

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Aging in Place: Home-Delivered Meal Options

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Dec 2, 2015 9:00:00 AM

Aging in place allows seniors the benefit of remaining in the familiar environment of their own home and maintaining more independence. While assisted living centers and nursing homes provide security and medical care for those who need it, aging in place is a better option for many. Resources like meal delivery help seniors remain independent at home for as long as possible. Here is what you should know about meals for seniors.

prepared_meals_for_seniors_LR.pngNutrition and Senior Health

Although most seniors need fewer calories than their younger counterparts do, the nutritional quality of their diet should increase. With age, the body has more difficulty absorbing nutrients, and this means older adults are more prone to malnutrition. In addition, many health issues, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, will worsen if the diet is poor.

Prepared meals for seniors can provide balanced nutrition to facilitate better health and well-being. Many older adults who suffer from fatigue or mobility problems find it difficult to continue cooking nutritionally balanced meals on a daily basis. In the absence of wholesome delivered meals, some resort to eating processed foods that are easier to cook but are high in sodium, sugar and fat.

Decreased appetite is also common in the elderly and can make cooking a meal feel like an unwelcome chore. These seniors might be tempted to skip meals unless meals are delivered directly to the home.

Special Diets

When choosing meal delivery, consider any special dietary needs. Program options vary from location to location, even with well-known meal delivery organizations, so make sure to ask which dietary options they offer. Most can accommodate seniors with low-sodium and low-sugar dietary needs, but not all supply special diets for other health issues or for religious and ethical dietary needs. Discuss the options with many delivery services to see which service is the best fit.

Home_Delivered_Meals_LR.pngDelivery Options

The number of daily meals required influences the delivery options and providers you should choose. Seniors who only need one hot meal a day and can make their own sandwich or breakfast at other times might wish to choose a program like Meals on Wheels.

Other options include programs that periodically deliver a selection of heat-and-eat meals, like our SunMeadow® brand frozen and shelf-stable meals. These are prepared meals that can be heated in a microwave at the senior’s convenience. Unlike processed meals from the grocery stores, these specially prepared meals for seniors are nutritionally balanced.


Cost of prepared meals for seniors varies, but many programs offer the service on a sliding scale basis or for free. Free home-delivered meals are available through various agencies, including those commonly referred to as Meals On Wheels. Program participation criteria vary from state-to-state and, sometimes, between different case management offices based on their funding requirements and plan design.

To identify the agency that can determine your eligibility,
call 1-800-677-1116 or visit On the site, interested individuals can search for services by location based on zip code or city and state. We recommend searching based on zip code, particularly in large metropolitan areas who may be served by multiple agencies. Locate agencies listed in the search results that have “Nutrition Programs” or “Home Delivered Meals” in their description. Contact those agencies directly and request home delivered meals service from GA Foods.

The more a senior has access to healthy foods and all of life’s necessities, the easier it will be to age-at-home. For more information on choosing a home-delivered meals provider, download our free ebook:

Download 9 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Home-Delivered Meals Provider

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Topics: Nutrition, Home Delivered Meals, Senior Health

Winter is Almost Here...Tips for Preparing Your Aging Parents

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Nov 19, 2015 1:52:17 PM

agingparent_LR.jpgWith winter just around the corner, it's time to start preparing your aging parents for inclement weather, particularly if they live in another city or state. When a winter storm hits, your parents may not have easy access to meals or other essentials. Here are some tips for long-distance caregivers:

Stock Up with Shelf-Stable Meals

Every state in the nation (including Florida and Hawaii) experiences potentially dangerous winter weather. Winter storms frequently catch people unprepared. Be sure your parents have the essentials on hand. Stock up on canned items (or any foods with long shelf lives that can be kept in the pantry) and paper goods (no one wants to run out of toilet paper in a blizzard!) If you
don’t live close enough to your parents to help them stock up, you can order these necessities
snow_deliver.pngfrom companies like Amazon and have them delivered directly to them.

You may also want to sign up for a meal delivery program that assists seniors. These programs will deliver meals to your family members, even in bad weather. Select a program that provides shelf-stable meals as an option, in the event of severe weather, when roads are closed and
delivery trucks can’t get through. (For more tips in selecting a home-delivered meals company, download this ebook.)

Other Emergency Supplies

Make sure your parents have at least a 7-day supply of their medications. Keep a list of their medications along with dose, frequency, and contact information for the prescribing doctor, as well as write the name and phone number for their pharmacy. It is also a good idea to keep back-ups of wheel chair batteries, oxygen, and other medical devices on hand. Include the information for those items on the back of the medications list.

petcare_LR.jpgDepending on the area your parents live, some other items that might be helpful are a flashlight and a battery-operated radio with extra batteries for both!

If your parents have pets, suggest that they stock up on food and medicine for their animals as well. Enlist the help of neighbors or a service that will take dogs out for a walk during severe weather, to make sure your parents do not slip or fall. Some cities have volunteer organizations that help seniors take care of their animals.

Involve Neighbors and Friends

Get the contact information for your parents’ neighbors and friends. During bad weather, it may be helpful for someone to check on your parents. You may also want to give them a key to your parents’ home. Ask them to make sure the heat is on and working, and they can also make sure there aren’t any fire hazards like a space heater near curtains or a fireplace that is improperly lit.

Caregiving from a distance is not any easy task. Find great information on strategies to build a supportive network in this article.



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Topics: Home Delivered Meals, Senior Health

Reauthorization of Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act Delayed by Congress

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Oct 13, 2015 9:32:42 AM

What is the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act?

According to the Food and Research Action Center (FRAC), more than 1 in 5 children live in households facing a constant struggle against hunger.  The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization (CNR) Act provides the federal funding for school meals and child nutrition programs. The purpose is to ensure low-income children have access to healthy and nutritious foods. Every five years, Congress reviews the funding levels and develops new policies to strengthen and improve the programs. The current law for CNR is the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010.  The deadline for reauthorizing CNR was September 30, 2015.  This leaves many wondering what will happen to the children served by the programs funded by this act.

Nutrition Standards for School Meals

HHFKA 2010 required USDA to implement nutrition standards based on the 2009 recommendations issued by the the Institute of Medicine (IOM). Prior to HHFKA, the healthy hunger free kids actnutrition standards and meal requirements for school meals were based on the 1995 Dietary Guidelines and the 1989 Recommended Dietary Allowances. IOM’s recommendations are in line with the latest Dietary Guidelines and Dietary Reference Intakes. Here is a summary of the nutrition standards for school breakfast and lunch:

  • Establishes new age/grade groups for menu planning that enables schools to provide age-appropriate meals.
  • Increases the amount and variety of fruits and vegetables offered to students.
  • Requires students to take at least half cup of fruits or vegetables for the meal to be reimbursable.
  • Requires all grains to be whole grain rich by SY2014/15.
  • Mandates fluid milk to be low-fat or fat-free.
  • Limits the total calories that can be offered in a meal with a minimum and maximum range for 5 day school week average.
  • Significantly reduces the amount of sodium allowed over a 10-year period.

Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act 2010 - Five Years Later

The USDA reports that HHFKA and other similar strategies have slowly reversed the childhood obesity trend and children have more energy to learn and grow, greater opportunity to thrive, and better overall health.  The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics emphasizes that HHFKA ensures the youngest, most vulnerable populations have access to the nutrition they need to grow into healthy adults. 

However, the School Nutrition Association (SNA) has a different viewpoint. SNA represents more than 55,000 school nutrition professionals that serve students and manage school meal programs. They believe “USDA’s regulations go too far, driving up costs and waste and causing many students to swap healthy school meals for less nutritious options.”

Current Status of Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act

The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry had scheduled a markup of a reauthorization bill for September 17. However, the committee chairman, Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) indefinitely delayed the markup, stating that he needed more time to finish writing legislation to reauthorize healthy meal requirements for schools. He said he is still negotiating parts of the bill with Democrats and waiting on the Congressional Budget Office to release cost estimates for the new provisions in the proposed legislation. 

Funding for CNR programs and provisions was extended with the continuing resolution that extended funding for the federal government until December 11, 2015. Senator Debby Stabenow (D-Mich), ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, indicated that a reauthorization bill will be completed by the end of the year.

GA Foods supports HHFKA and healthier meals for children. Through our partnerships with child nutrition programs funded by CNR, we are making a difference in the lives of children. Many school programs depend on us to provide them with meals that meet the nutrition standards, so they can focus on educating and nourishing young minds. GA Foods will continue to closely monitor the reauthorization of CNR and any potential changes to the law.

Download our free white paper, Reauthorization of Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act: Striking a Balance, for more background and information on HHFKA.

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Topics: Child Nutrition, School Lunch

Reduce Healthcare Costs with Home Delivered Meals

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Sep 8, 2015 12:02:20 PM

1 Out of Every 3 Patients Admitted to the Hospital is Malnourished!

Many Americans are surprised to learn that malnutrition is a very real problem among hospitalized patients in the U.S. In fact, research has shown that approximately one of every three patients admitted to a hospital is malnourished. Left untreated, about two-thirds of those patients will become more severely malnourished during their hospitalization. Approximately one-third of patients who are not suffering from malnutrition upon hospital admission will become malnourished by the time they are discharged.

Malnutrition Increases the Risk of Complications from Diseases

Malnutrition has far-reaching effects, causing impairment on many levels. Poor nutritional status impairs the immune system, delays wound healing, causes unhealthy changes in body composition, reduces muscle strength and can decrease the function and efficiency of vital organs and systems, such as the kidneys, respiratory and cardiovascular systems, and more. Malnutrition is also associated with fatigue, apathy and depression. These effects and others contribute to poor treatment outcomes as compared to well-nourished patients, including longer recovery times and increased risk of complications.

Malnutrition Increases the Length and Complexity of Care of Hospitalized Patients

Malnutrition among patients also has consequences for the medical facilities that treat them, as well as managed care organizations, health plans, and other stakeholders in the medical system. The effects of malnutrition can significantly increase the overall length and complexity of care in these patients, which substantially increases the costs associated with treatment. Additionally, poor nutrition and the poorer outcomes that come with it often mean more frequent hospitalizations – and in many cases, readmissions within 30 days of discharge. Newer reimbursement rules, implemented under the Affordable Care Act, impose financial penalties for readmissions.  Per Kaiser Health News, beginning in October, nearly 2,600 hospitals will receive lower payments for every Medicare patient.  These hospitals lost a combined total of $420 million due to the readmission penalty.  

Home Delivered Meals Maximize Patient Outcomes and Minimize Costs

Providing home delivered meals after a hospitalization or as part of the treatment plan for chronic disease management can reduce complications and readmissions. For more information, read this article about MANNA in Philadelphia and how they reduced healthcare costs with home delivered meals. 

Our white paper, Reduce Healthcare Costs and Improve Patient Outcomes with Post-Discharge Meals, reviews the body of evidence that shows how post-discharge meals can maximize patient outcomes while reducing healthcare costs.  Download our white paper now to learn more about nutrition care during the post-discharge period and how nutrition care will improve your outcomes as a hospital, managed care organization or health insurer.

Download White Paper - Reducing Healthcare Costs and Improve Patient Outcomes


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Topics: Malnutrition in Elderly, Healthcare Cost Reduction

Farm to School Programs: Healthy Kids and Healthy Economy

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Aug 18, 2015 1:04:48 PM

Farm_to_SchoolFarm-to-School Programs

With the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act, the National School Lunch Program requires a greater variety of vegetables be served throughout the school week. However, getting children to try vegetables has proven to be a challenge. As a result, many schools are implementing farm-to-school programs. The National Farm to School Program was authorized by Congress in 2004, with the intent to supply fresh, locally grown foods to schools. Children are more willing to try new foods if they interact with the grower.  Local farmers also benefit from financial opportunities by supplying schools and food distributors. 

Besides including locally grown foods on the school menu, farm-to-school activities can enhance classroom education through hands-on learning with school gardens and composting programs. Children learn the source of their food and how food choices affect their health, the environment, and their communities.  School gardens improve children’s attitudes towards produce and they are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables that they grow.

Blog_local_food_sidebarShortening the distance between the farmer and the school, helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and benefits our environment and wildlife. When food doesn’t have to travel so far, it also is less prone to chemical, physical, and biological hazards.

A successful farm-to-school program includes students, parents, farmers, school food service staff, teachers, community, etc. People like to hear about the story of their family, their operation and how they bring their products to market. Other farm-to-school activities can include nutrition education with cooking and tasting activities.

Buying Locally Grown for Families

Buying locally grown food for your family is also a great way to eat flavorful, healthy meals while supporting your local economy! 

The ability to talk with producers when purchasing food allows you to ask questions about pesticides, herbicides, growth hormones, animal treatment, fertilizers, and any other queries you may have about how your food was produced.
Plus, knowing your local farmers and food producers gives you a stronger sense of place, relationships, trust, and pride within your community.

To find local food for your family, visit

GA Foods' and Locally Produced Foods

GA Foods is committed to using locally grown and produced foods in all of the markets we serve. Our distributor works with local farmers to source produce.  We use a local dairy for our milk and a local bakery for our breads and rolls.

Buying locally supports Florida's economy and keeps local people employed.  To get an idea of the impact that child nutrition programs have on the local community and economy, watch this video. For information on our child nutrition offerings, click here.

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Topics: Child Nutrition, Healthy Lunch, School Lunch

Q&A about Salt and Low Sodium Meals for the Elderly

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Jul 30, 2015 1:52:00 PM

low-sodium-mealsNine out of 10 Americans consume too much sodium. Too much sodium is a health concern for all ages, but particularly for older Americans. Kidney function declines with age, so seniors have a more difficult time removing excess sodium from their bodies.  While the body needs an adequate amount of sodium to function, too much sodium can lead to stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure.  

How much sodium should seniors consume?

Both the American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommend that seniors consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. 1,500 mg is equivalent to just 2/3 teaspoon of salt, so meeting this recommendation and finding low sodium meals can be a challenge.  

Where is sodium hiding?

Most of the sodium in meals for the elderly comes from added salt (sodium chloride), either during food preparation or at the table. In addition, seniors frequently eat canned and frozen convenience meals purchased from the grocery store or a food delivery company that is not focused on senior nutrition. Restaurant meals and frozen meals made by mass market producers tend to be loaded with sodium and should only be consumed in a limited amount.

Where can seniors find convenient yet healthy meals?

Many senior centers have nutrition programs that offer congregate meals. These meals are typically funded by the Older Americans' Act and are required to meet low sodium meal guidelines. If you or your loved one is able to travel, these centers often also offer classes, activities, and services designed specifically for older adults. Some centers request a nominal donation for meals.  Many of the centers and other programs, like Meals on Wheels, provide home delivered meals which also meet the same low sodium requirements.  To find a center, go to

GA Foods is a provider of SunMeadow® brand frozen and shelf-stable (canned or non-refrigerated "pantry") meal delivery for many senior programs.  Not only are SunMeadow® meals low in sodium, they are also appropriate for those needing a healthy heart diet, diabetic diet meal plan, or diet for kidney disease. Not all food delivery companies are the same; many do not cater to the specific health needs of seniors. Be sure that you or the senior in your life consumes meals that are designed specifically for the special needs of seniors to avoid excessive sodium and ensure adequate nutrient content.

For more information about the nutritional content of SunMeadow® meals, click the image below:

Download Nutritional Information and Product Specifications


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Topics: Nutrition, Home Delivered Meals, Senior Health, Cardiac Diet, Sodium

What Do New Shoes and Home Delivered Meals Have in Common?

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Jul 2, 2015 2:25:00 PM

new_shoes_home_delivered_mealsNot too long ago, I was walking through a neighborhood after a thunderstorm had passed by. I noticed an elderly woman with a walker, trying to cross the road.  The recent downpour had created a wide puddle along the street that was several inches deep.  She explained to me that she had new shoes on and she didn’t want to get them wet by stepping into the water.  She needed to cross the street, because the bus that went to the local grocery store would be coming soon. We managed to get her across the puddle with minimal damage to her new shoes.  I waited for the bus with her and found out grocery shopping was her Monday routine.  Actually, it was her routine several times a week.  She doesn’t have family nearby to help with shopping.  During each trip to the grocery store, she buys only what will fit in the basket of her walker.  After 15 or so minutes, the bus had not come.  Since I do not rely on public transportation, it took awhile for me to realize that it was Memorial Day and the busses were not running on their regular schedule.  I offered to get my car and take her to the store, but she decided her best option was to get back over that huge puddle and go back home.  It was unsettling to me that she might not have food at home to eat. Unfortunately, there are too many seniors out there with the same issue.

Almost 10 million seniors face the threat of hunger in the U.S.

The annual report, State of Senior Hunger in America 2013, was released in April 2015. Per the report, a high proportion of seniors in the United States are going without food, despite an improving economy:

  • 15.5% of seniors face the threat of hunger.  This equals 9.6 million seniors.
  • Seniors are more likely to be threatened by hunger if they:
-  Live in the South and Southwest
-  Are a minority
-  Have a lower income
-  Are 60-69 years old
  • Of those that face the threat of hunger, the majority have incomes above the poverty line and are Caucasian
  • The number of seniors experiencing the threat of hunger increased by 45% from 2001 to 2013.

Why are so many seniors hungry?

When I considered the circumstances of my new friend, my initial assessment was a lack of marketing – senior agencies just needed to do a better job of communicating the resources available for the elderly.  Certainly, this woman would qualify for services, if she wanted them.  She lived alone on a fixed income with limited mobility and no family support.  Perhaps, she could get home delivered food or go to a nearby senior center for lunch.  What about local agencies, didn’t they have a list of volunteers that could help her shop once a week? 

However, the reality is this isn’t a marketing problem.  It is a funding problem.  According to the National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD), funding for seniors is not keeping pace. From 1980 to 2010, the population of seniors (adults 65+) rose 60%, but funding for programs serving seniors declined by 34%.  In 2010, 57.5 million adults (60+) were eligible for services, but only 11 million were served.

The President’s proposed budget for FY2016 expands access to Medicaid and home and community-based long-term care services and supports. It also provides $875 million for Nutrition Services programs, a $60 million increase over the 2015 enacted level, allowing States to provide 208 million meals to over 2 million older Americans nationwide.  However, last week the Senate’s bill for funding nutrition programs in FY2016 did not contain an increase.  The House bill provided only a $6 million increase for Older Americans Act Senior Nutrition Programs.

Food insecurity means additional health challenges and increased health expenditures

Numerous studies have shown that food insecurity1 is associated with poor nutrition and health outcomes among seniors.  Food insecure seniors have worse health outcomes:

  • They are 50% more likely to have diabetes
  • Twice as likely to report fair or poor general health
  • Three times more likely to suffer from depression
  • 30% more likely to report limitations with at least one activity of daily living
  • 14% more likely to have high blood pressure
  • 60% more likely to have congestive heart failure or have experienced a heart attack

The authors of State of Senior Hunger in America 2013 suggest that potential opportunity to curtail the growth of health care expenditures among older Americans is to improve the problem of food insecurity. 

home_delivered_mealsHome delivered meals for seniors as a health plan benefit

Progressive health plans have started adding home delivered meals as a benefit.  More studies are needed to quantify the return-on-investment of those meals. But let’s look at what could have happened to my friend with the new shoes:

Her new shoes were expensive, orthopedic shoes.  She probably had to save or sacrifice something else to buy them.  They were so important to her that she was willing to risk a fall by hopping over the puddle to keep them dry.  What if I had not walked by to help her cross the puddle? What if she had fallen? What if she had broken a hip? What if she was no longer able to remain in her home and had to go to a nursing facility?

A total hip replacement averages about $30,000 in this area, which is 10 times more than providing home delivered meals for seniors for one year. The average annual cost for a person on Medicaid in a nursing facility is $53,593 – more than 17 times the cost of healthy, home delivered meals for a year.

Aging in place

NASUAD reports that 92% of home delivered meal recipients say meals allowed them to remain in their homes. Allowing seniors to age in place is cost-effective.  Perhaps even more important is it improves their well-being.  The security, dignity, and quality of life that a senior experiences in their own homes is invaluable.  Funding nutrition programs for seniors is a small price to pay.

Want more information on the impact nutrition has on patient outcomes?  Download our free ebook here.

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1The USDA defines food insecurity as consistent access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources at times during the year.
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Topics: Home Delivered Meals

Your Mom was Right - Breakfast Really is the Most Important Meal of the Day

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Apr 8, 2015 12:34:00 PM

School breakfast improves achievement scoresSS_Kid

A recent study conducted by David Frisvold, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Iowa, finds students who attend schools that participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's School Breakfast Program (SBP) have higher achievement scores in math, science, and reading than students in schools that don't participate. This is consistent with other studies about school breakfast. A brief prepared by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), summarizes the findings from research on school breakfast:

-  Skipping breakfast and experiencing hunger impair children’s ability to learn.
-  Eating breakfast at school helps improve children’s academic performance.
-  School breakfast improves student behavior and learning environments.
-  School breakfast can improve children’s nutrition and protect against obesity.

School breakfast participation is low

The School Breakfast Program is available to all schools, public or private.  Traditional SBP meals are served in the cafeteria, prior to school. However, only half of the kids eligible for free or reduced school lunches, actually participate in SBP. Experts agree that there is a stigma related to eating breakfast in the cafeteria, while the other students socialize.

One approach that is working well is free breakfast for all students, served in the classroom. According to FRAC, the benefits of breakfast in the classroom are:

-  Lowered tardiness and absenteeism rates
-  More fruit and dairy products consumed at breakfast
-  Increased sense of community
-  Increased participation in SBP

Serving breakfast in the classroom pays off

Some teachers push back on serving breakfast in the classroom as they feel it might impact instructional time. But educators that work in schools with breakfast in the classroom say it only takes about 15 minutes each morning. Many schools succeed by using grab-n-go shelf-stable breakfast items that the students take as they enter the classroom.  The teacher uses this time to take attendance, collect homework, or read school announcements. As a result, 76% of teachers see an improvement in alertness during morning lessons and they like knowing their students are energized and ready to learn. 

The time spent with breakfast in the classroom pays off later. Frisvold’s research found that the impact of SBP has on achievement scores is cumulative.  The longer the school participated in the SBP, the higher their achievement.  Math scores were 25% higher at participating schools during a students’ elementary school tenure than would be expected otherwise. Frisvold says, reading and science showed similar gains.  

Implementing breakfast in the classroom

Looking for help implementing breakfast in the classroom at your school?

Download a Teacher's Guide to Breakfast in the Classroom

Click here for more information on GA Foods’ shelf-stable breakfast meals, Breakfast Club.

Download free infographic, What's in the Bag?



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Topics: Child Nutrition, Shelf-Stable Breakfast, School Breakfast, School Achievement Scores, Breakfast in the Classroom, Resources for Teachers

Lower Healthcare Costs with Home-Delivered Meals

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Mar 17, 2015 3:30:00 PM

This is the final post of our 5-part series, Impact of Nutrition Care on Patient Outcomes.  In this series, we reviewed original research that shows the impact nutrition care has on patient outcomes.


In the past few weeks, we have been reviewing research about the effect nutrition care has on patient outcomes. This week we will finish the series with a review of a pilot study that looked at the impact of home-delivered meals and nutrition counseling on the healthcare costs of chronically ill patients.

MANNA (Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance) is a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia that cooks and delivers medically-appropriate meals and provides nutrition counseling to individuals that are chronically ill.  Most of the recipients have cancer, renal disease or HIV/AIDS. Socioeconomic status is not a factor in determining who can receive their services, however, most of their clients are Medicaid-eligible.  Each week, MANNA delivers 21 frozen meals to recipients.  They also offer nutrition counseling by a Registered Dietitian.

Researchers evaluated healthcare costs of two sample groups, MANNA clients and a comparison group, matched for gender, age, race, and ethnicity, for a 12-month period.  The comparison group contained members of a local Medicaid managed care organization (MCO).  Because only aggregate data was provided by the MCO, some members of the comparison group may have been receiving food resources.  The authors do not believe any were receiving home-delivered meals.

While the MANNA research was a pilot study, the results1 were still significant:

  • The total average monthly healthcare costs were $28,000 for MANNA clients and $41,000 for the comparison group.
  • The average cost of a hospitalization was $132,000 for MANNA clients and $220,000 for the comparison group.
  • MANNA clients had 50% less hospitalizations than the comparison group.
  • MANNA clients’ length of stay was 37% shorter than the comparison group.
  • MANNA clients were 20% more likely to be discharged from the hospital to their home rather than to long-term care.

Per the CDC, chronic diseases are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems. Providing home-delivered meals to those with chronic conditions is an economical solution.  GA Foods’ home-delivered meals program allows members to have medically-appropriate, easy-to-prepare meals and remain independent in their homes.  Health plans that add post-discharge meals and chronic disease management meals to their supplemental benefits, see a return on investment of 3 to 1.

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Download free ebook on questions to ask when choosing a home-delivered meals provider.

1Gurvey, J, et al. J Prim Care & Comm Health 2013;4(4):311-317.

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Topics: Home Delivered Meals, Chronic Disease Management, MCO ROI

Hospital Malnutrition and Discharge Planning

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Mar 4, 2015 1:10:00 PM

This is the fourth of a 5-part series, Impact of Nutrition Care on Patient Outcomes.  In this series, we will review original research that shows the impact nutrition care has on patient outcomes.


Malnutrition is a common health issue

Hospital malnutrition in developed countries is more prevalent than most realize. Here are some statistics1:

- It is estimated that one-third of patients are malnourished upon admission to the hospital.

- If left untreated, approximately two-thirds of these patients will become even more compromised during their hospitalization.

- Roughly one-third of patients not malnourished at admission will become malnourished during their hospital stay.

Malnutrition in the frail and elderly is an important area of concern, because it has been correlated with many poor outcomes2:

- Increased risk of pressure ulcers
- Impaired wound healing
- Increased infection rate
- Muscle wasting
- Functional loss, resulting in more falls
- Longer hospital stays
- Higher readmission rates
- Higher treatment costs
- Increased mortality

Nutrition care improves clinical outcomes

Most of these adverse outcomes are preventable or can be improved with nutrition intervention. The Alliance to Advance Patient Nutrition has developed a model for interdisciplinary nutrition care. (Figure 1) 

static_abbottnutrition_com_cms-prod_malnutrition_com_img_Alliance_Care_Model_2014_v1_pdf Figure 1:  Source:

The Steering Committee of the Alliance published a call to action that outlines the comprehensive model from hospital admission through discharge.  Their sixth principle, Develop a Comprehensive Discharge Nutrition Care and Education Plan, ensures that nutrition goals achieved in the inpatient setting are not compromised once a patient is discharged1. 

Access to food is an important part of discharge planning

One area the Steering Committee suggests be addressed in the discharge plan is access to food.  This is one area that is frequently neglected in care transition planning and of particular concern for the frail and elderly.  Providing access to food through home-delivered, post-discharge meals allows the frail and elderly to regain their strength and energy sooner.  It also helps reduce unplanned hospital readmissions.  Proactive hospitals and health plans are providing post-discharge meals as part of transition care planning.  The GA Food’s home-delivered meals program allows the frail and elderly to have nutritious, easy-to-prepare meals and remain independent in their homes.

For more information on the benefits of post-discharge meals, see this blog post.

Contact John Siegel at GA Foods

Download free ebook on questions to ask when choosing a home-delivered meals provider.

1Barker, LA. Et al. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2013; 8(2):514-527.

 2Tappenden, KA, et al. J Parenter Enteral Nutr 2013;37:482-497.

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Topics: Malnutrition in Elderly, Home Delivered Meals, MCO ROI

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