Home News  

Immaculata News

From Nutrition Student to CEO: Sue Daugherty’s Inspiring Path to Advocating for Medically Tailored Meals

Sue Daugherty

Sue Daugherty ’97, RDN, LDN, was honored on Metro Philadelphia’s Power Women 2023 list for good reason. The list highlights women in a variety of corporate, political and nonprofit leadership positions who are using their power to tackle persistent problems and inequities. Daugherty studied nutrition at Immaculata and is the CEO of MANNA, the Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance in Philadelphia, which provides free, medically tailored meals and nutrition education for people with serious illnesses.

After being named a “Power Woman,” Daugherty reflected on the theme of power in her life and work. Her career has focused on food as a powerful medicine, “the foundation on which all other treatments can be built,” she said. “I use the analogy that if you don’t have gas in your car, it’s not going very far. The right prescribed food is critical when battling illness, because it allows the rest of the body to function and medicines to work effectively.”

Daugherty’s role at MANNA also involves using her power to advocate for increased access to medically tailored meals. She has testified before Congress and met with Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro and other political and business leaders to share research demonstrating that patients who receive meals based on their prescribed diets have better health outcomes and much lower health care costs long-term.

“Imagine getting prescribed high blood pressure medicine or insulin for diabetes and having nowhere to fill that prescription,” Daugherty said. Some patients need to follow complex prescribed diets—low sodium and no more than four grams of phosphorus, for example.  At MANNA, Daugherty said, “we see ourselves as the pharmacy for your prescription diet.” Because of nutrition’s crucial role in good health, Daugherty said, “My message is that medically tailored meals should be a mandated, covered benefit for all.”

When she was a young adult, it took Daugherty some time to discover nutrition and realize her skills in the field. She stumbled upon the discipline at the Community College of Philadelphia and ultimately fell in love with it. She went on to Immaculata to earn her bachelor’s degree in nutrition and met nutrition professor Mary Beth Gilboy, Ph.D., RDN. “She had a reputation at Immaculata as a good and challenging instructor. So when I actually did well in her class, I gained confidence and validation in my career path.” Daugherty continued to excel, completing her dietetic internship with honors and becoming a registered dietitian at MANNA.

She never expected to take on a powerful position as CEO, but she expressed gratitude for the mentors who helped her develop early on in her career, as well as the team that now supports her as she leads MANNA. “I have always been really fortunate to have mentors and people around me who supported and believed in me,” she said, referencing a ShopRite manager who showed her “how to be a working woman,” a classmate who adopted her as a “study buddy” and a clinical instructor who opened doors for her in the field of nutrition.

“I certainly could never do what I do if I did not believe that MANNA is going to change the world of food as medicine. Through our policy work and advocacy work, someday, everyone who gets prescribed a diet will have access,” said Daugherty.

Read more about Sue Daugherty and MANNA in the winter 2021 issue of Immaculata Magazine.

Recent News