Why They’re Food Heroes: Citymeals on Wheels, led by Executive Director Beth Shapiro, was fortunately able to keep its services uninterrupted throughout 2020, and in the first three weeks of lockdown alone, the organization produced five hundred thousand meals. To accomplish this, Citymeals doubled its staff, creating much needed jobs in the Bronx. By March of 2021, a year after lockdown began, Citymeals had delivered more than three million meals to fifty thousand at-risk senior citizens. The service delivers more than just meals, however—recipients are also glad to see a friendly face coming to their homes during the particularly isolated lockdown.
Background: Shapiro grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, and attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Before this role, she worked in advertising. Citymeals on Wheels, however, was founded in the early 1980s in order to provide meals to seniors on weekends and holidays, days when government-provided food services were not being offered.
Work: As the Executive Director of Citymeals on Wheels, Shapiro launched Chefs Deliver, connecting accomplished chefs from around the city with senior residents to provide them with restaurant-quality meals. Furthermore, under Shapiro’s tenure, volunteer hours increased by over sixty percent.
Awards, Praise and Honors: In March 2020, Citymeals on Wheels was awarded a $1 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to help their work feeding the elderly during the COVID-19 crisis. Wanda Flores, a driver for the organization, was included in the Queens Chronicle’s list of Hometown Heroes.
Location: Throughout New York City, with a distribution center in Hunts Point, the Bronx
Website: Citymeals on Wheels Website
Resources and References:
- Citymeals on Wheels Hands Out Food Throughout the Bronx (Bronx Times)
- NYC Food Policy Center Interview with Beth Shapiro, Executive Director, Citymeals on Wheels (Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center)
- Citymeals on Wheels Commemorate One Year of Emergency Response Through the Pandemic (Pix11)
- Citymeals on Wheels Marks 3 Million Meals Delivered During Pandemic (ABC7NY)
- Citymeals on Wheels Serving NY Seniors Amid Coronavirus (Daily News)
- Hometown Heroes in the War on Hunger (Queens Chronicle)