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Food Packages & Poems
By Rachel Sherrow, Associate Executive Director & Chief Program Officer
September 26, 2019
Fall is an especially busy time at the Citymeals warehouse up in the Bronx. Our staff is assembling Emergency Food Packages to be delivered to Citymeals recipients over the next several weeks, just as the season starts to change.
EFPs are a lifeline for our older neighbors during the winter. Each box contains four shelf-stable meals, including staples like salmon, chicken, organic brown rice, applesauce, oatmeal, and vegetables – as well as special treats like hot chocolate and low-sugar cookies. The nourishing meals we provide fill their kitchen cabinets, acting as insurance when harsh winter weather like snow, ice and freezing rain delays our regular meal deliveries.
But, Citymeals recipients aren’t just receiving extra meals in their EFPs. Tucked into each box are poem cards, made possible through a partnership with the Poetry Society of America. Poems are a special treat for the homebound elderly, many of whom experience real social isolation. In fact, 8% of the older New Yorkers we serve have no one with whom to talk, other than their meal deliverer. Surprises like this remind our isolated older neighbors they aren’t forgotten.
Found in this year’s EFP is “To You” by Walt Whitman. Over the past year, Citymeals recipients have received poem cards in their holiday boxes by several other poets, including Langston Hughes, Emperor Koko and Sara Teasdale.
In the coming week, Citymeals staff and volunteers will begin hand-delivering nearly 18,000 EFPs to our homebound elderly neighbors across the five boroughs – just as the leaves start to change color.