CITYMEALS ON WHEELS: HIGH GEAR

December 20, 2018 at 5:00 am

As the holidays approach, meet the people who ensure those that are homebound are not forgotten or left hungry this holiday season.

For more information on Citymeals on Wheels, click here. 
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Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America is a multi-platform public media initiative that provides a deeper understanding of the impact of poverty on American society. Major funding for this initiative is provided by The JPB Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Ford Foundation.

Aired on December 19, 2018.

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>> FOR OVER 35 YEARS, A
NONPROFIT CITY MEALS ON WHEELS
HAS BEEN PROVIDED A LIFELINE OF
NOURISHING MEALS AND VITAL
COMPANIONSHIP TO THOUSANDS OF
HOMEBOUND AND ELDERLY NEW
YORKERS WHO NO LONGER CAN COOK
OR FEND FOR THEMSELVES.
FOUNDED IN 1981 BY "NEW YORK"
MAGAZINE RESTAURANT CRITIC GAIL
GREEN AND LEGENDARY COOKBOOK
AUTHOR JAMES BEARD, "CITY MEALS"
PARTNERS WITH COMMUNITY-BASED
ORGANIZATIONS AND SENIOR CENTERS
TO PREPARE AND DELIVER WEEKEND,
HOLIDAY, AND EMERGENCY MEALS
ACROSS THE FIVE BOROUGHS.
THIS HOLIDAY SEASON, AS IN
SEASONS PAST, THE TEAM OF
VOLUNTEERS WILL HAND DELIVER
MEALS TO THEIR FRAIL AND AGED
NEIGHBORS, GIVING THEIR TIME,
THEIR COMPANIONSHIP, AND DHEER
CHEER TO REMIND ISOLATED NEW
YORKERS THEY'RE NOT FORGOTTEN OR
ALONE.
JOINING US IS CITY MEALS'
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BETH
SHAPIRO.
NICE TO HAVE YOU HERE.
>> THANK YOU.
VERY NICE TO BE HERE.
>> I TOUCHED BASE ON IT A LITTLE
BIT.
TELL ME HOW IT IS THAT CITY
MEALS GOT STARTED.
>> THERE WAS A NEWSPAPER ARTICLE
THE WEEKEND OF THANKSGIVING IN
1981 THAT TALKED ABOUT OLDER NEW
YORKERS GOING UP TO FOUR DAYS
WITHOUT FOOD BECAUSE THE CITY
FUNDED MEALS MONDAY THROUGH
FRIDAY AS LONG AS THERE WAS NO
HOLIDAY.
SO THE CITY WAS CLOSED THURSDAY
UNTIL MONDAY.
AND AS YOU SAID, GAIL GREEN, OUR
FOUNDER, READ THE ARTICLE.
AND IN HER WORDS, WAS LIVING A
LIFE OF DELICIOUS EXCESS.
SHE FELT BAD.
SHE READ THE ARTICLE, THOUGHT IT
COULD BE HER GRANDMOTHER, HER
MOTHER.
SO SHE CALLED HER FRIEND, JAMES
BEARD.
THEY RALLIED THEIR FRIENDS IN
THE RESTAURANT WORLD, AND AT
THAT TIME RAISED $35,000.
THEY THEN CALLED THE CITY, THE
DEPARTMENT OF THE AGING, SAID WE
HAVE $35,000, HOW MANY PEOPLE DO
YOU HAVE.
THEY SAID 6,000.
THEY SAID, WE'LL DO CHRISTMAS.
AND THAT WAS THEIR PLAN TO DO
CHRISTMAS BASKETS, A CHRISTMAS
MEAL.
AND IT JUST NEVER STOPPED.
WE'VE PARTNERED WITH THE CITY
SINCE THAT TIME, AND WE FILL THE
GAP.
CITY MEALS, AS YOU SAID,
PROVIDES WEEKEND, HOLIDAY, AND
EMERGENCY MEALS.
OUR PIECE OF THAT IS NOW TWO
MILLION MEALS A YEAR TO 18,000
OLDER NEW YORKERS.
>> SO GIVE US A SENSE OF THE
PROGRAMS.
HOW -- HOW CITY MEALS DOES THIS.
>> THE CITY FUNDS MEALS MONDAY
THROUGH FRIDAY.
AND CITY MEALS STEPS IN,
LEVERAGES THE SAME MEAL CENTERS,
THERE ARE 30 CENTERS, ALL FIVE
BOROUGHS, SPREAD AROUND,
PREPARING AND DELIVERING MEALS.
BASICALLY WHAT WE SAY IS WE WANT
YOU TO DO MORE, WE'RE GOING TO
MAKE SURE YOU'RE COVERED FOR
THAT, TO MAKE SURE OLDER PEOPLE
WHO ARE TOO FRAIL TO SHOP OR
COOK FOR THEMSELVES HAVE A MEAL
EVERY DAY.
YOU AND I EAT EVERY DAY.
NOT JUST FIVE DAYS A WEEK.
>> YEAH.
LET ME GO BACK TO THE NUMBER YOU
GAVE US -- 18,000 THAT YOU'RE
GOING TO DO.
AND THE OTHER THING I WAS STRUCK
BY IS -- IS THE NUMBER OF
ELDERLY, THE FOLKS BEING SERVED
AND WHAT THE PROJECTIONS ARE IN
THE FUTURE.
>> RIGHT.
SO THEY'RE THEIR -- THERE ARE
1.4 MILLION PEOPLE 60 AND OLDER
IN NEW YORK CITY.
THAT NUMBER IS ALMOST GOING TO
DOUBLE.
GROW 40% BY 2040.
THE FASTEST GROWING POPULATION
IN THE COUNTRY.
WE'RE SEEING PEOPLE BOTH AGING
IN, RIGHT, WITH ALL THE
BABY-BOOMERS COMING IN AT A
YOUNGER AGE, AND THEN WE'RE
SEEING PEOPLE LIVE LONGER.
SO THE FASTEST GROWTH AREA FOR
US, 80-PLUS.
WE'RE FEEDING OVER 200 PEOPLE
WHO ARE 100 YEARS OLD OR OLDER.
>> I SAW THAT NUMBER.
THAT WAS ASTONISHING.
>> IT'S ASTONISHING.
ON THANKSGIVING I DELIVERED TO
JOSEPHINE IN EAST HARLEM WHO IS
101.
101, FULL OF LIFE, VERY FRAIL.
COULDN'T, YOU KNOW, MANAGE THE
HEAVY DOORS IN HER BUILDING TO
GET OUT OR TRY TO STRUGGLE WITH
GROCERIES OR TO COOK.
BUT SO BRIGHT AND THANKFUL THAT
A MEAL AND SOMEONE CHECKING ON
HER EVERY DAY.
BUT THE NUMBERS ARE GROWING AT A
FASTER PACE THAN EVER BEFORE.
>> TELL ME ABOUT THE ROLE THAT
THE VOLUNTEERS PLAY IN YOUR
ORGANIZATION.
>> WE HAVE VOLUNTEERS EVERY DAY
OF THE WEEK.
THEY'RE DELIVERING MEALS.
THEY'RE PARTICIPATING IN A
FRIENDLY VISITING PROGRAM WHERE
WE PAIR A VOLUNTEER WITH A MEAL
RECIPIENT, AND THE VOLUNTEER
AGREES TO GO EVERY WEEK FOR AT
LEAST AN HOUR OR SO.
>> NOT JUST HERE, HERE'S
SOMETHING FOR YOU TO EAT, TAKE
THAT CARE?
>> NO.
WE'RE FINDING THAT, YES, THAT
CHECK-IN IS VERY IMPORTANT, THAT
CONNECTIVITY.
BUT THESE PEOPLE HAVE OUTLIVED
FRIENDS, FAMILY, OFTEN EVEN
THEIR OWN CHILDREN, AND THE
ISOLATION THAT THEY'RE FEELING
IS ALMOST AS DEBILITATING AS
LACK OF FOOD.
SO WE HAVE THE FRIENDLY
VISITING.
WE HAVE SENIOR CHAT WHERE YOU,
ANY VOLUNTEER WOULD AGREE TO
CALL A MEAL RECIPIENT ON A
REGULAR BASIS, AND EVEN
OLD-FASHIONED PENPALS.
>> PEOPLE ARE WATCHING THIS AND
SAYING, WHAT A MARVELOUS
ORGANIZATION.
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP THEM?
>> SO YES, VOLUNTEERS, BUT
HONESTLY DONATIONS.
WE GUARANTEE THAT 100% OF
DONATIONS FROM THE GENERAL
PUBLIC GO TO MEAL PREPARATION
AND DELIVERY.
PEOPLE CAN LOOK ON LINE,
CITYMEALS.ORG, TO MAKE A
DONATION, VOLUNTEER, AND EVEN
FIND OUT ABOUT GETTING MEALS FOR
SOMEONE THEY CARE ABOUT.
>> THAT'S THE NEXT TO MY LAST
QUESTION FOR YOU.
PEOPLE WATCHING SAY, I KNOW
SOMEBODY I THINK WHO COULD BE
HELPED BY THIS, THIS COULD BE
BENEFICIAL FOR THEM, THEY DO
WHAT?
>> SO TWO OPTIONS.
CALL 311 FOR THE CITY.
AND VERY EASILY GO TO
CITYMEALS.ORG.
THERE'S A TAB RIGHT AT THE TOP,
"GET MEALS."
YOU PLUG IN THE ZIP CODE, AND IT
GIVES YOU THE RIGHT PHONE NUMBER
FOR THAT LOCAL AREA TO GET MEALS
FLOWING QUICKLY.
>> MARVELOUS ORGANIZATION DOING
SUCH GOOD WORK FOR SO MANY
PEOPLE WHO NEED THE HELP FROM
THIS ORGANIZATION.
I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR WHAT YOU
DO.
ALL OF YOUR FOLKS THERE,
ESPECIALLY YOUR VOLUNTEERS.
THANKS FOR SPENDING TIME WITH
US.
>> THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.
I APPRECIATE IT.
>> MY PLEASURE P..
YOU BE WELL.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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