CITYMEALS ON WHEELS: HIGH GEAR

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.

TRANSCRIPT

> 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.

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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