By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Philadelphia meals program, MANNA, reports that its clients are healthier and cost the healthcare system less, than chronically ill people who don’t get regular meals.

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That may seem obvious, but KYW’s Pat Loeb reports a three year study offers conclusive proof that it’s true.

The report marks a milestone in the evolution of MANNA, from a humane organization working out of a church basement to ease the suffering of people dying from AIDS to the way it now sees itself.

“I really truly think of MANNA as a 950 bed hospital but we are delivering medically appropriate meals to your home,” explains Sue Daugherty, the executive director of MANNA.

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Daugherty says MANNA views food as medicine and she says the report supports that.

“Health care costs for MANNA clients are 60 to 80 percent less, it shows, and their hospital stays are shorter and less frequent,” Daugherty points out.

She says MANNA hopes to convince insurance groups and policy makers that nutrition should be a routine, reimbursable service.

“When you have the dollars and cents to attach to your service, people will listen,” says Daugherty.

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