Keeping New York City Senior Citizens Fed During COVID-19

by Deirdre Appel

While COVID-19 is upending all facets of life and leaving no part of the city’s population unaffected, senior citizens are particularly vulnerable. More than 1.1 million adults over 65, about 13 percent of the total population, reside in New York City. In addition to this demographic being at high-risk for contracting the virus, Feeding America notes that an estimated 183,290 seniors live in food insecure households in NYC, leading them to face additional difficulties in accessing their meals. 

Below is an initial list of resources to help keep our senior citizens fed during the COVID-19 pandemic, including senior centers offering lunches, meal delivery services, and grocery stores offering “Seniors Only” shopping hours. For more details and information specific to your neighborhood, please refer to this page. The Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center is updating this page regularly with new neighborhoods.

If you or someone you know has additional questions or is facing hunger or food insecurity, please contact us at or call the following organizations:

  • Emergency Food Hotline: 866-888-8777
  • Shelter or Temporary Housing Assistance: 3-1-1

Meals for Seniors at Senior Centers (60-years-old and above)

Senior centers are closed throughout NYC, but are still offering Grab & Go LUNCHES ONLY Monday through Friday, 11:00am – 1:00pm. Seniors should bring ID, but will not be turned away if they do not have it. Aides are eligible to pick up meals on behalf of the seniors but should communicate with the center ahead of time.

To find a senior center in  your neighborhood, please visit here.

Before visiting your local center, we recommend calling to ask about: 

  • Meal delivery. Some centers are offering it on a case-by-case basis.
  • Hours. They may be shifting daily, so call every day to confirm.
  • Breakfast or dinner. All centers are prioritizing lunch, but some may offer additional meals or frozen meals.
  • Extra meals. If you need to pick up a meal for another senior living at home, please advise the center beforehand.

Special Supermarket Shopping Hours for Seniors Only

  • Big Lots
    • The first shopping hour is reserved for senior citizens and at-risk individuals.
    • See Store Finder Here for the nearest Big Lots
  • Costco
    • 8 am to 9 am on Tuesday and Thursday for members 60 and older
    • See Store Finder Here for the nearest Costco 
  • Dollar General
    • Stores open 1 hour early for seniors only. 
    • See Store Finder Here for the nearest Dollar General
  • Fairway Market
    • Open 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. to those 65 and older, those with increased susceptibility to serious illness, and expectant mothers
    • See Store Finder Here for nearest Fairway Market 
  • Stop and Shop
    • 6:00 am – 7:30 am is reserved for senior customers. 
    • See Store Finder Here for the nearest Stop and Shop
  • Target
    • The first shopping hour on Wednesday morning is reserved for seniors and those with underlying health conditions.
    • See Store Finder Here for the nearest Target
  • Trader Joe’s
    • From 9 am to 10 am there is a special line for senior customers outside the store to ensure expedited service. 
    • See Store Finder Here for the nearest Trader Joe’s
  • Whole Foods
    • Stores open 1 hour early for seniors only
    • See Store Finder Here for special senior hours at your closest Whole Foods.

Nonprofit Delivery Services

  • CityMeals on Wheels: Delivers meals to eligible New Yorkers over 60 years old.
  • God’s Love We Deliver: Delivers meals to eligible New Yorkers who are too sick to cook or shop for themselves.
    • Eligibility Requirements and Application Information here.
    • A Medical Provider must sign the application for services.
  • Encore Community Services: Delivers meals to those on the West Side of Manhattan from 14th Street to 110th St. from the Hudson River to 5th Avenue
    • Eligibility Requirements and Application Information here
    • Contact Encore’s Home Delivered Meal Staff at: 212-581-2910 and Press 3

If you know of any changes or updates to the above information, please email right away. Thank you!

Related Articles

Subscribe To Weekly NYC Food Policy Watch Newsletter
Subscribe to our weekly email newsletter today to receive updates on the latest news, reports and event information
No Thanks
Thanks for signing up. You must confirm your email address before we can send you. Please check your email and follow the instructions.
We respect your privacy. Your information is safe and will never be shared.
Don't miss out. Subscribe today.