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Citymeals-on-Wheels (alt. Citymeals) is Meals on Wheels-type nonprofit organization in New York City that raises private funds to ensure no homebound elderly New Yorker goes without food or human company.
Gael Greene and James Beard founded Citymeals-on-Wheels in 1981 after reading a newspaper article about homebound elderly New Yorkers with nothing to eat on weekends and holidays. They rallied their friends in the restaurant community, raising private funds as a supplement to the government-funded weekday meal delivery program.
What began in 1981 with a group of individuals and a public-private partnership serving Christmas dinner for 6,000 needy elderly at a cost of $35,000, is now an organization now underwriting 3 million meals annually, covering 40% of the costs of all home delivered meals in New York City, and raises $17.5 million annually.
The current Executive Director is Beth Shapiro, who took over from founding director Marcia Stein in 2011.
Weekend Meals - Citymeals contracts with local meal centers to prepare and deliver nutritious meals on Saturdays and Sundays; government funding only covers meals Monday through Friday and not on holidays.
Holiday Meals - Holidays are particularly lonely for our elderly neighbors who may have outlived spouses, friends and sometimes even their own children and yet these are days when government-funded programs used to remain closed. Citymeals funding allows many centers to remain open on holidays for those who are able to walk in and volunteers deliver meals to the homebound. Citymeals funds holiday meals for Rosh Hashanah, Thanksgiving, Chanukah, New Year’s Day and Easter.
Holiday Food Boxes - When local meal centers close throughout the year for holiday observances, Citymeals will guarantee that homebound clients have food. Boxes of shelf stable food and special treats such as canned tuna and chicken, shelf stable milk, cookie, crackers and juices are provided. Citymeals provides holiday boxes for Labor Day, Season’s Greetings, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Passover, Memorial Day and Independence Day.
Emergency Food Packages - Citymeals-on-Wheels sends a large box of non-perishable food out to each homebound elderly client in late fall to provide security through the winter months. Clients are encouraged to keep some food on hand in case a winter weather emergency keeps regular meals deliveries from getting to them. The additional emergency food packages are sent quarterly to recipients on wait lists and/or second meals clients.
Supper Meals - A joint study with Cornell University recently identified 14% of Citymeals’ clients as at risk for malnutrition. They do not have the means to supplement their one daily home-delivered meal. Citymeals delivers supper meals to these elderly who are the poorest, frailest and most isolated.
Friendly visiting is also an important part of the Citymeals mission, and volunteer groups spend social time with isolated elderly to help their loneliness.
References & External Links
- Citymeals-on-Wheels, New York, New York
- New York Times article: "Behind 34 Million Meals, 34 Million Tales "