This Thanksgiving, Citymeals on Wheels prepared and delivered more than 19,000-holiday meals complete with all the fixings for vulnerable older New Yorkers from Harlem to Hollis who are unable to leave their homes.
Working in partnership with more than 30 community-based organizations and senior centers, over 500 Citymeals volunteers spent the morning hand-delivering the meals, along with a friendly check-in, for their frail aged neighbors. Broadway and movie star Kathleen Turner, a long-time Citymeals Board Member, joined volunteers to prepare and deliver the holiday meals.
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“This is our second pandemic Thanksgiving, and once again, Citymeals’ dedicated staff and volunteers stepped up to ensure our city’s homebound elderly received a nourishing holiday meal and a reminder that they are not forgotten,” said Citymeals Executive Director Beth Shapiro. “For 40 years, Citymeals has provided a nourishing lifeline for older New Yorkers in need. We are excited to commemorate our 40th anniversary this holiday season and continue our mission to serve our city’s most vulnerable population.”
Citymeals is beginning the celebration of its 40th anniversary this holiday season. In 1981, just before Thanksgiving, Gael Greene, longtime New York magazine restaurant critic, was shocked to learn that homebound elderly New Yorkers were going hungry on weekends and holidays when the city did not fund home-delivered meals.
Greene joined forces with legendary cookbook author and teacher James Beard, reaching out to their friends in the food and hospitality industry to raise the funds necessary to prepare and deliver 6,000 meals for their most vulnerable neighbors.
Since then, Citymeals has become woven into the fabric of the city and has delivered 65 million weekend, holiday and emergency meals. Today, Citymeals is the largest nonprofit meals on wheels program in the country.
Since the start of the pandemic, Citymeals has delivered nearly 5 million meals to vulnerable older New Yorkers. The organization is now serving nearly 20,000 meal recipients – a 10% increase since the start of the crisis.
Additionally, over 24,300 volunteers have given over 102,400 hours of time to the Citymeals mission since March 2020. In a typical year, Citymeals prepares and delivers over 2 million weekend, holiday and emergency meals for the frail aged.
All Citymeals meal recipients are over 60 years of age and chronically disabled by conditions such as vision loss, diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease.
The majority of Citymeals recipients live alone, 40 percent rarely or never leave their homes, and 8 percent have no one with whom they can talk to on a regular basis other than their meal deliverer. Before Covid-19, 1 in 10 older New Yorkers were food insecure. That has only increased during the pandemic.
Citymeals on Wheels
Citymeals on Wheels (citymeals.org) provides a continuous lifeline of nourishing meals and vital companionship to nearly 20,000 homebound elderly New Yorkers.
Working in partnership with community-based organizations and senior centers, Citymeals has prepared and delivered nearly five million weekend, holiday, and emergency meals since the start of the pandemic. Last year, over 19,500 volunteers gave more than 83,000 hours of time to Citymeals’ mission.
Since its founding in 1981, Citymeals has relied on the generosity of its Board of Directors, the City of New York, sponsors and other designated gifts to cover administrative costs.
This ensures that 100% of all public donations will be used entirely for the preparation and delivery of meals.
Photo credit: 1-4) Citymeals.