Hip, Hip, Hooray, Citymeals On Wheels Celebrates 40th Anniversary With Milestone Christmas Delivery To Our Seniors

This Christmas, Citymeals on Wheels prepared and delivered nearly 20,000-holiday meals, spreading holiday cheer to vulnerable older New Yorkers across the city who are unable to leave their homes.

Almost 300 Citymeals volunteers spent the morning hand-delivering the meals, along with a friendly check-in, for their frail aged neighbors.

This Christmas marks the 40th anniversary of Citymeals’ first-holiday meal in 1981 and is a chance to celebrate their work nourishing older New Yorkers and alleviating isolation.

“For four decades, Citymeals has nourished body and soul for older New Yorkers in need. They built our city and need our help now more than ever,” said Citymeals on Wheels Executive Director Beth Shapiro. “This Christmas is special because, not only did we deliver 20,0000 festive holiday meals to our isolated older neighbors, we’re also marking this important milestone. We are so proud to honor the vision of Gael Greene, who founded Citymeals back in 1981 to ensure a lifeline of meals for the city’s most vulnerable population. Since then, we’ve become woven into the fabric of the city and continue our essential mission.”

Just before Thanksgiving in 1981, long-time New York Magazine restaurant critic Gael Greene, 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.


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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 Christmas meals for their vulnerable neighbors.

Citymeals has delivered 65 million weekend, holiday and emergency meals since its founding.

Citymeals has delivered 65 million weekend, holiday and emergency meals since its founding.

Today, Citymeals is the largest nonprofit meals on wheels program in the country.

The organization works in partnership with more than 30 community-based organizations and senior centers across the city.

“The pandemic, and its evolution, further exacerbates food insecurity and economic instability that resilient but marginalized communities have been battling for years. Community-based organizations remain key in addressing citywide needs, during this holiday season and beyond. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve those seeking support this winter, along with our committed partners at Citymeals on Wheels, and our dedicated staff and volunteers,” said Gregory J. Morris, President and Executive Director of the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center.

Since the start of the pandemic, Citymeals has delivered over 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.

The organization is now serving nearly 20,000 meal recipients – a 10% increase since the start of the crisis.



Last year, over 19,500 volunteers dedicated their time to Citymeals’ mission. In a typical year, Citymeals prepares and delivers more than 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.

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.

“The holiday season has always been about giving and caring for your community. We are proud to work alongside the Isaacs Center and Citymeals in continuing the seasonal tradition of preparing and delivering meals to those who may not have one this season,” said Roderick Jones, Executive Director of Goddard Riverside. “As New York City looks to recover from the pandemic, a strong social safety net and community based organizations are an essential foundation to lift New York City’s neighborhoods out of the crisis that has plagued us for the last two years.”

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.

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