December 27, 2013

In 1981, Citymeals Co-Founder Gael Greene read an article in the New York Times explaining that homebound elderly New Yorkers were going hungry on weekends and holidays – times when government-funded meal centers were closed. Outraged, she called renowned chef and cookbook author James Beard and several other friends to raise funds that would provide Christmas meals to their frail aged neighbors. Thirty-two years later, delivering meals on Christmas continues to be a central part of our mission.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, we distributed nearly 16,000 Season’s Greeting boxes for our meal recipients to enjoy during the holiday. Each package contained a holiday card from Citymeals and the equivalent of three shelf-stable meals, consisting of items like salmon and tuna, mixed vegetables, low sugar cookies or City Wheats crackers, organic brown rice, powdered milk, coffee and tea.

On Christmas Eve, FDNY firefighters from Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens joined Citymeals Executive Director Beth Shapiro to deliver these packages – along with poinsettias and gifts from the FDNY – to their neighbors in Harlem. Among the recipients was 109-year-old Roxana, a lifelong New Yorker and former teacher. Find out more about our activities on Christmas Eve in these news stories:

FDNY, New Yorkers Celebrate Christmas by Giving Back” from CBS New York
FDNY Delivers Meals to Hundreds of Homebound Seniors for Christmas” from Pix 11
Citymeals-on-Wheels Delivers Holiday Food and Cheer in Harlem” from DNAinfo New York

Staff and 423 kindhearted volunteers helped celebrate Christmas Day by bringing almost 8,000 festive holiday meals right to the doors of older New Yorkers in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx.

After delivering meals in Ozone Park on Christmas Day, Citymeals Executive Director Beth Shapiro observed, “Here at Citymeals, Christmas is an important part of our history. Our first meals were delivered on Christmas Day in 1981, and we’ve continued to provide meals every Christmas – and on all other holidays – since then. We understand how isolating the holidays can be for those who have outlived their families or are just too far away for them to visit. We are there for our city’s most vulnerable residents, providing meals and a friendly visit, to show that someone truly cares.”

Click the links below for press coverage of Citymeals on Christmas Day:

Citymeals-on-Wheels Volunteers Deliver Holiday Cheer on Christmas” from CBS New York