The Citymeals Blog

Food for Though
Cover of the FY 2022 Annual Report

A Milestone Year

In the last fiscal year, Citymeals celebrated an incredible milestone and boldly planned for the future. Our 40th anniversary — and the 67 million meals delivered since our founding — was a reminder of just how much our organization has grown.

New York City is constantly changing, and we must too. People over 60 now outnumber school-aged children and the needs of that aging population are increasingly diverse. To meet the needs of older adults, Citymeals undertook an ambitious strategic plan to reckon with changing demographics, address gaps in service the Covid-19 pandemic revealed and work to strengthen the safety net for aging New Yorkers.

In our fiscal year 2022 Annual Report, you can go beyond the numbers and see the heart of our work. You’ll meet devoted volunteers like Cassandra, who has been delivering meals for nearly twenty years. “This is what we’re meant to do. We’re put here to help others out. For me, this comes automatically,” she reflects. Thanks to our dedicated staff and volunteers like Cassandra, we delivered nearly 2 million weekend, holiday, and emergency meals to our homebound elderly neighbors last year.

Citymeals recipient Deborah, 96, in her kitchen
Debby began receiving meals at the start of the pandemic. The deliveries soon became essential.

For our meal recipients like 96-year-old Debby, home-delivered meals were a lifeline during the pandemic. Born in Brooklyn, the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants, Debby has called the city home her entire life.  After her beloved husband died, Debby dedicated herself to volunteering. She also loved going to see the Metropolitan Opera broadcast live at her local movie theater on the East Side. And although the city is bustling again, Debby isn’t venturing out: “I’m still fearful.” So much has changed in just two years.

Debby used to make the trip to the grocery store, but she’s no longer up to it. These days, Debby says she’ll have cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and our home-delivered meal makes for a comforting, full dinner. Despite macular degeneration and a heart condition, Debby has been able to maintain her independence and remain in the home she loves. About her longevity, all she can say is: “I’m delighted!”

Citymeals volunteer Sheena on a friendly visiting social Zoom call with meal recipient Leslie.
Friendly visiting volunteer Sheena connects on a Zoom call with Citymeals recipient Leslie. 

A meal delivery volunteer for more than ten years, Sheena got involved in our Friendly Visiting program during the pandemic. Now, every Friday at noon, she joins her favorite Zoom meeting of the week with Citymeals recipient Leslie. In her 70s and living on the Upper West Side, Leslie became especially lonely during the pandemic. She’s always eager to talk and when the virus receded, she and Sheena were finally able to meet in person and embrace. Leslie admits it was the first hug she had in more than two years.  Sheena reflects, “Volunteering is one of the more selfish things I do. Because I get so much out of it.”

Over the last fiscal year, nearly 19,000 volunteers gave over 52,000 hours of their time to support our mission and their homebound neighbors across the boroughs. Many are community groups like Muslim Volunteers for New York, who have partnered with Citymeals for over five years. They craft handmade cards for birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions. This multi-generational group, of children and parents understands how a personal greeting can transform the day of an isolated older neighbor. Together, they have created nearly 8,000 cards for our meal recipients.

Citymeals volunteers hold up handmade cards for our homebound elderly meal recipients.

As always, we could not have touched the lives of so many homebound elderly neighbors without the compassion of friends like you. Through four decades we have been guided by a simple idea: the generations before us created the city we love, and we will care for them because they are our own.

I hope you’ll read the Annual Report and learn more about the difference Citymeals and our supporters are making in the lives of older new Yorkers in need.

Food For Thought