The Citymeals Blog

Food for Though

Coping with Covid-19

Living through a global pandemic, and coping with stay-at-home orders, has left many New Yorkers feeling cooped up, eager to return to their regular routines around the city. But for many of our homebound elderly recipients, who rely on Citymeals for nourishing meals and friendly visits, they are accustomed to staying home and grateful to be in the comfort of their own homes – where most have lived for several decades.

Meeting and talking with many of the 18,414 Citymeals recipients is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. While Citymeals is delivering 450,000 emergency meals in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, I’m no longer visiting our recipients simply to chat. Instead, I have been checking-in over the phone to see how they are doing and hear about their perspectives on this unprecedented time in New York City.


For 80-year old Dorothy, who lives on Manhattan’s East Side, this isn’t the first public health crisis she’s experienced. During her fifty-year career as a nurse, Dorothy worked in the city's first AIDS clinic and at Ground Zero after 9/11. "Neither crisis forced you to be isolated at home," she observed. Thanks to her regular Citymeals deliveries, Dorothy is relieved she doesn’t have to worry where her next meal will come from. Like so many of us, Dorothy is taking everything one day at a time. "So far, so good," she says with a smile. She has lived in the same apartment for 40 years and can’t imagine being anywhere else.

In November, Chef Thomas Keller delivered a special meal to Lawrence as part of our Chefs Deliver program.

71-year-old Lawrence, who lives in in Hell’s Kitchen, has never experienced something like the fear around Covid-19. Lung disease makes him particularly vulnerable to the virus, but as a Citymeals recipient he’s relieved to be in the comfort of his own home, where he wants to be. A self-proclaimed homebody, he says, “I love my apartment. I’m comfortable here.” He spends his time now reading the New York Times cover to cover.  


A highlight of each day for 90-year-old Mary in Stuyvesant Town is a knock on the door from her meal deliverer Warren. She no longer opens the door to chat with him briefly. But Warren calls to let her know he’s on his way and leaves the freshly-prepared meal in a bag on her doorknob. Even from behind a closed door, the delivery is reassuring. “I really appreciate the food at this time. I’m getting more than one meal at a time – it’s just wonderful,” she says. During Covid-19, our meal centers are providing additional food when they can, in case regular deliveries are interrupted.

During a time of uncertainty, talking with our meal recipients reminds me how resilient our older neighbors are. If they can remain positive, surely we can too. 

Food For Thought