It looks like some kind of odd assembly line. The volunteers are huddled around metal tables mixing ingredients to make the next dish. All of this happens at  the Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance, or MANNA’s location the Steven Korman Nutrition Center on N. 20th Street. Its named after Steven Korman, a philanthropist and Chair of MANNA’s Advisory Board.

They are making food that could be the difference between life and death for some people. They make three meals a day, seven days a week for people suffering from chronic illnesses where proper nutrition can have positive effects on the disease.

Each meal is made specifically to the person’s dietary needs and all of this is free of charge for the patient. Meals are stored in walk-in freezers at MANNA facilities for next-day deliveries. The Steve Korman Nutrition Center in Philadelphia has an aptly-named “Walken” freezer, due to a large poster of actor Christopher Walken by the freezer entrance.

Founded in 1990 by members of the First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia, dedicated its mission to helping people suffering from AIDs. This was when stigma of AIDs was at its highest. In 2006, MANNA expanded its mission to help people with other life-threatening diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

They partner with corporations such as PECO, ABC, CBS, The CW, and American Airlines to bring nutritional food to the Philadelphia area.

MANNA provides meals to those who are in need and require a special diet. The organization brings food to the people living in the Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey areas.

Patients are referred to MANNA by their healthcare provider according to Robert L. Saxon, Director of External affairs. “We have registered dietitians on staff that bring clients in and put them on service.” Saxon said.

According to the CDC, about half of the adults living in the U.S. have at least one chronic illness. It helps those living with a chronic illness to have a special diet.

The World Health Organization states that diet has a great effect on the human body. A balanced diet can eliminate diseases such as diabetes and certain types of cancer. MANNA is trying to combat disease by advocating for healthy diets. They are trying to help people live the best lives possible.

According to Jody McIntosh, Manager of Community Engagement, volunteers help prepare and deliver over 95,000 meals per month. MANNA relies mostly on volunteers to prepare, cook, and deliver the food. They have an extensive network of over 1200 volunteers.

“MANNA would not be MANNA without the community and army of volunteers that come every single day to make it possible to deliver nourishing food to people battling life threatening illnesses…” Sue Daugherty, C.E.O of MANNA, said.

“MANNA is a community, too – a living, breathing and growing community for people of all ages and walks of life. We invite you – whether as an individual or part of a group – to become part of our vital community…and our mission.”

There is also the Young Friends of MANNA. A group of young professionals who carry out the mission of MANNA. They do fundraiser social events and raise awareness about nutrition during illness.

MANNA is always looking for more volunteers, sign up at their website individually or with a group.