Citymeals on Wheels delivers record 20,000 meals to elderly on 40th anniversary

Citymeals on Wheels

This past Christmas, Citymeals on Wheels celebrated the 40th anniversary of the first time the organization delivered holiday meals to older New Yorkers across the city. Citymeals reached a record breaking 20,000 hand delivered meals with the help of nearly 300 volunteers traveling across New York City to serve meals to the elderly. 

“For four decades, Citymeals has nourished body and soul for older New Yorkers in need. They built our city and need our help now more than ever,” said Citymeals on Wheels Executive Director Beth Shapiro. “This Christmas is special because, not only did we deliver 20,000 festive holiday meals to our isolated older neighbors, we’re also marking this important milestone. We are so proud to honor the vision of Gael Greene, who (co-founded) Citymeals back in 1981 to ensure a lifeline of meals for the city’s most vulnerable population. Since then, we’ve become woven into the fabric of the city and continue our essential mission.”

Citymeals was founded by Greene and James Beard to alleviate the issue of food insecurity faced by elderly New Yorkers. The organization focuses on the elderly who lack access to food, especially on weekends and holidays.

Until now, Citymeals has delivered 65 million meals. Even in the midst of COVID-19, Citymeals successfully delivered 5 million meals with the help of 21,000 volunteers - which is a 10% increase in meals delivered since the beginning of the pandemic. 

But Citymeals doesn’t only provide meals for elder New Yorkers. Citymeals also has an established friendly visiting program where nearly 600 seniors are matched with volunteers who will reach out to them for continued social connection. 

“The pandemic has caused an enormous amount of isolation above and beyond what our seniors would have endured normally because they are homebound, but we made sure that we had volunteers who were checking in on the seniors within our wellness program,” Vivienne O'Neill, director of volunteer programs at Citymeals told NYN Media. 

Citymeals typically helps those who are over 60, live alone and may have a chronic disability. About 40% of the elderly helped by Citymeals almost never leave their homes, and 8% suffer from social isolation. Citymeals aims to combat food insecurity and social isolation to ensure elderly New Yorkers thrive despite challenges.