The Citymeals Blog

Food for Though
Photo of the Brennan family delivering meals on Thanksgiving.

The Holidays During Covid-19

This is a holiday season unlike any other in our lifetime. 

We are still in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, and many of us are unable to see the people we love and who rely on us. Instead of traveling and hugging our family, we’re staying home, wearing masks, and celebrating at a social distance – or alone entirely – to stay safe. 

Despite the challenges, for Citymeals, our holiday traditions continue — rallying caring New Yorkers and delivering meals to the homebound elderly, who are more isolated than ever.

I spent Thanksgiving at one of our meal centers in Manhattan, where volunteers packed meals and headed out on deliveries. The day was busy — Citymeals prepared over 25,000 meals for older New Yorkers across the city. Over 250 Citymeals volunteers spent their holiday delivering these meals, along with a friendly but socially distant check-in, to remind our frail aged neighbors they’re not forgotten. 

For the Brennan family, volunteering with Citymeals is a holiday tradition. Hannah Brennan, who has been delivering meals since she was just a few years old, said the meal recipients she saw that morning were filled with gratitude. “Hearing those words from someone that we helped, that’s the best thing that you can hear.” 

I was glad to hear from Dorothy, one of our meal recipients I met last year, who is isolated in her Upper East Side apartment almost all day, except for an occasional walk outside. As a former nurse, Dorothy is familiar with public health crises —she worked in the city’s first AIDS clinic and as a first responder during 9/11. She says she’s not terribly afraid of the Coronavirus but acknowledges, “At 81, I have no place being in a grocery store with a mask and gloves on,” she explains. “So Citymeals on Wheels is getting me through. I’m very grateful.”

Citymeals meal recipient Dorothy in her apartment.

Another meal recipient, Jackie from Queens, wrote us a note expressing her gratitude for our regular meal deliveries during this difficult time. “Since heart surgery two years ago, I’ve been getting daily visits from my two meals-on-wheels angels. For two months of this summer, I could only stay in my living room — the only room with an AC, otherwise, I couldn’t breathe.” She, too, spends the majority of her day in her apartment, alone.  

Staying home is essential for older people but creates new challenges, including difficulty securing adequate food. The risk of malnourishment and hunger for older New Yorkers has increased during covid-19. Isolation and lack of social contact also contribute to anxiety and depression. That’s why a friendly check-in from a Citymeals staff deliverer or volunteer has never been more important for our meal recipients. 

This Christmas morning, we’ll be at it again – delivering nourishing, delicious holiday meals to the homebound elderly. I encourage anyone who wants to give back this holiday to join us. You can sign up to volunteer here.

Through the holiday season and into the New Year, Citymeals will continue our emergency response to covid-19, ensuring the homebound elderly are well-nourished – neighbors helping neighbors.  

Food For Thought