The agency that delivers meals directly to the doors of the homebound elderly has set up shop in borough.
Citymeals on Wheels unveiled its new 30,000 square-foot Hunts Point food distribution center in a gala ceremony on Monday, October 29.
The center at 309 Drake Street, called The Joan and Bob Tisch Emergency Meal Distribution Center, replaces a facility that had been located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, said Beth Shapiro, Citymeals on Wheels executive director.
The executive director said that about a third of the meals the organization serves to city residents will come through this distribution center, which stocks mostly non-perishable food items.
Citymeals on Wheels also partners with kitchens around the city prepare meals for the homebound elderly who cannot shop or cook for themselves, she said
The Hunts Point facility will service the entire city, she said.
The organization was attracted to the warehouse, which doubles their capacity to deliver meals, because of its proximity to the Hunts Point food markets, closeness to highways, and the fact that the warehouse they purchased had been a supermarket distribution center with a lot of food-related infrastructure already in place, said Shapiro.
“We are excited to be in the Bronx,” said Shapiro, adding that key personnel have transferred to the site from Brooklyn.
The location is all the more appropriate because communities in the southern Bronx have the highest incidence of food insecurity in the nation, said Shapiro.
“This location really allows us to serve elderly (in high-need areas),” said Shapiro, adding that the meals it serves are delivered to the homebound elderly on weekends, holidays and during special situations and emergencies.
“We deliver directly to their door,” said Shapiro about Citymeals work. “There is no other organization in the city that is delivering directly to the doors of homebound elderly.”
In the Bronx alone, Citymeals on Wheels delivers 300,000 meals annually to 2,700 individuals, she said.
The new distribution center will double the number of non perishable emergency food boxes it can warehouse, store enough food for 55,000 additional meals and provide the flexibility for weekend meal delivery in the borough.
It also allows the organization to refrigerate fresh fruits and vegetable, accommodate up to 250 volunteers and expand its mobile food pantry.
The dedication ceremony on Monday, October 29 included remarks by Jonathan Tisch, chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels whose family made a key gift in a fundraising campaign to build the new facility; architect David Rockwell of Rockwell Group and Donna Corrado, NYC Department For the Aging commissioner.
The building’s façade features portraits, designed by the Rockwell Group, that depict images of the clients who are recipients of Citymeals on Wheels food deliveries.
Rockwell said the façade is a celebration of the meal recipients, bringing visibility to their stories and the work Citymeals does.
“The faces on this building represent the thousands we serve every day,” said Shapiro. “They worked hard, raised families, fought in wars and gave so much to this city we love.”