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(June 29, 2021 - New York, NY) -- Today, Citymeals on Wheels – the largest nonprofit meals on wheels program in the country – marked the delivery of its four millionth meal since the start of the pandemic. With this delivery, Citymeals commemorates its landmark response to the Covid-19 crisis, continuing its mission to provide home-delivered meals and companionship to homebound elderly New Yorkers on weekends, holidays and in times of emergency.
Marking this significant milestone, Citymeals on Wheels Executive Director Beth Shapiro joined Citymeals deliverer and essential worker Andrew Smith, one of 450 people working in kitchens and delivering meals across the city throughout the pandemic. Andrew delivered the special meal to 83-year-old Citymeals recipient Irene, who lives alone in the same Sunset Park home where she was born. “Sometimes he’s the only face I see in a day,” she says.
“Our dedicated staff and volunteers, including selfless individuals like Andrew, have continued to answer the call to support our City’s homebound elderly,” said Citymeals Executive Director Beth Shapiro. “Before the pandemic, we referred to our meal recipients as ‘the hidden hungry,’ because they are living behind closed doors and unable to get out. Now, we’ve all experienced that kind of isolation and understand how very difficult it is. As the city reopens, we cannot forget our frail aged neighbors.”
With the City continuing its reopening, including the resumption of indoor and outdoor programming at local senior centers, Citymeals remains a vital resource for the vulnerable elderly like Irene who are still unable to venture out of their homes. As the designated emergency responder for the City’s seniors, Citymeals has been working on the frontlines of the pandemic to ensure home-delivered meals continue uninterrupted.
Of the four million meals provided to elderly New Yorkers, one million were emergency meals that came from Citymeals Emergency Meal Distribution Center in the Bronx. Even with the state of emergency now over, the organization continues to provide over 5,000 emergency meals a week to older New Yorkers facing food insecurity, many living in senior and public housing. Today, for nearly 20,000 homebound elderly, who are too frail to shop or cook for themselves, these meal deliveries remain a critical source of nutritious food. Citymeals experienced a 10% increase in the number of meal recipients it serves since the start of the pandemic; this increase in need continues today.
Citymeals has also seen an unprecedented level of support among everyday New Yorkers eager to help their older neighbors in any way they can. With the support of nearly 20,000 volunteers last year, Citymeals ensured that not one meal delivery was missed.
Citymeals is the only non-profit focused on delivering nutritious meals to the homebound elderly in all five boroughs. Among those they serve:
- All meal recipients are over 60 and chronically disabled by conditions such as vision loss, diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease.
- All need assistance with walking: 66% use a cane, 39% use a walker and 16% use a wheelchair.
- More than 60 percent of Citymeals recipients are over 80 years old; 23 percent are over 90; and 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.
About Citymeals on Wheels
Citymeals on Wheels (citymeals.org) provides a continuous lifeline of nourishing meals and vital companionship to nearly 20,000 homebound elderly New Yorkers. Working in partnership with community-based organizations and senior centers, Citymeals has prepared and delivered over four million weekend, holiday, and emergency meals since the start of the pandemic. Last year, 19,865 volunteers gave more than 82,000 hours of time to Citymeals’ mission.
Since its founding in 1981, Citymeals has relied on the generosity of its Board of Directors, the City of New York, sponsors and other designated gifts to cover administrative costs. This ensures that 100% of all public donations will be used entirely for the preparation and delivery of meals.