Citymeals on Wheels prepares food packages for the homebound elderly ahead of winter

Citymeals on Wheels at the organization’s Emergency Meal Distribution Center in the Bronx.
Photos courtesy of Citymeals on Wheels

The staff of Citymeals on Wheels packed Emergency Food Packages (EFPs) at the organization’s Emergency Meal Distribution Center in the Bronx Tuesday, Oct. 5, in an effort to prepare homebound elderly New Yorkers for the winter months ahead.

The special meal packages will be hand delivered this month to nearly 20,000 Citymeals recipients to ensure they have extra food on hand should winter weather or other emergencies delay regular meal deliveries. Each EFP includes four nutritious, shelf-stable meals, including chicken and salmon, brown rice, vegetable cups, applesauce, oatmeal and treats like cocoa and low sugar cookies.

Citymeals on Wheels employees work to pack Emergency Food Packages for the elderly.

“As the pandemic continues into its second winter, making sure our vulnerable older neighbors have nutritious food on hand is absolutely essential,” said Citymeals Executive Director Beth Shapiro. “The 20,000 homebound elderly New Yorkers we serve are the hidden hungry – no longer able to shop, cook or even walk to a food pantry. These special care packages ensure they have food in their cupboards and a nourishing lifeline when they need it.”

Citymeals on Wheels is the largest nonprofit meals on wheels program in the country. It has delivered 4.3 million meals to vulnerable older New Yorkers since the start of the pandemic. More than 1 million of those are nutritious shelf-stable emergency meals from Citymeals’ Emergency Meal Distribution Center in the Bronx.

Working in partnership with community based organizations and senior centers, Citymeals is now serving nearly 20,000 meal recipients – a 10% increase since the start of the pandemic. One in 10 older New Yorkers was facing food insecurity before the pandemic and that number has only increased. Among Citymeals recipients, 14% live on just the one meal a day the organization delivers.

Citymeals is the only nonprofit focused on delivering nutritious meals to the homebound elderly in all five boroughs. Among those they serve:

  • All Citymeals’ recipients are more than 60 years old 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% of Citymeals recipients are more than 80 years old; 23% are more than 90 years old; and more than 200 have lived more than a century.
  • Meal recipients are isolated: the majority live alone, 40% rarely or never leave their homes, and 8% of meal recipients have no one they can talk to on a regular basis other than their meal deliverer.

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