Despite the pandemic, staff and volunteers carry on the tradition
providing holiday meals and a friendly check-in to older New Yorkers in need

Photo assets and B-roll of a meal delivery and Citymeals’ recipients, available for use here 

(December 24, 2020 - New York, NY) -- As it has for nearly 40 years, Citymeals on Wheels will prepare and deliver 24,000 holiday meals for frail aged New Yorkers. Across the five boroughs, nearly 200 volunteers are pitching in to help ensure the homebound elderly are well-nourished and remembered during the Christmas holiday. These deliveries and check-ins are essential for the city’s elderly who are more isolated than ever due to Covid-19. 

As the designated emergency responder for the city’s seniors, Citymeals continues to work on the frontlines of the pandemic to ensure a lifeline of meals and companionship for older New Yorkers who are too frail to shop or cook for themselves. One in ten city seniors were food insecure before the Covid-19 and that figure has only grown. 

“The people we serve are the hidden hungry -- they can no longer walk to the grocery store or to a food pantry to get what they need. But growing old shouldn't mean you're invisible,” said Citymeals Executive Director Beth Shapiro. “This year, our dedicated staff and volunteers have rallied like never before to nourish both body and soul, providing meals and a true connection for their isolated older neighbors.”

Since the start of Covid-19, Citymeals has taken additional safety precautions to protect delivery staff, volunteers and meal recipients. Deliveries are now contactless with staff and volunteers placing meals in a bag on the doorknob, ringing the bell and stepping back to practice social distancing without forgoing the friendly check-in that recipients rely on.   

Citymeals works in partnership with community-based partners across the city to provide weekend, holiday and emergency meals for homebound elderly New Yorkers. While much of the city shuttered this year, home-delivered meals have continued without interruption. Since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, Citymeals has delivered over 2 million meals to vulnerable older New Yorkers – 800,000 more than during the same period last year. At the height of the crisis, Citymeals added 3,000 new recipients to its regular delivery routes and is now serving nearly 20,000 of the city’s most vulnerable population. 

 More than 8,000 volunteers have given over 30,000 hours of time to Citymeals since the start of the pandemic, helping nourish their homebound elderly neighbors. The number of volunteer applications to Citymeals has doubled, over the same period last year.

Citymeals is the only non-profit focused on delivering nutritious meals to the city’s seniors in all five boroughs. Among those they serve:

  • All recipients are over the age of 60 and chronically disabled by conditions such as vision loss, diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease.
  • More than 60 percent of recipients are over 80 years old. 23 percent are over 90 years old. More than 200 have lived at least a century.  
  • Meal recipients are isolated: the majority live alone, 40 percent rarely or never leave their homes, and 8 percent of meal recipients have no one they can talk to on a regular basis other than their meal deliverer. 
  • One-third of Citymeals recipients are living below the poverty level. 


About Citymeals on Wheels

Citymeals on Wheels ( provides a continuous lifeline of nourishing meals and vital companionship to New York City’s homebound elderly. Working in partnership with community-based organizations and senior centers, Citymeals prepares and delivers over 2.6 million weekend, holiday and emergency meals for nearly 20,000 of our frail aged neighbors each year. Last year, nearly 20,000 individuals volunteered more than 82,000 hours of time to Citymeals’ mission.