New York, NY—The Isaacs Center was very busy this week delivering over 400 frozen turkeys to residents in public housing on the Upper East Side and the Taft Senior Center in East Harlem in preparation for Thanksgiving Day. Today, over 200 volunteers arrived at the center to distribute 1,000 boxes containing a full Thanksgiving meal to seniors who participate in the center’s home delivered meals program.
The full meal looked scrumptious: Turkey with gravy, stuffing, yams, green beans, cranberry sauce, roll, margarine, Apple juice, Apple pie and chocolate milk.
Greg Morris, the Isaacs Center’s executive director, said that normally on Thanksgiving Day about 150 seniors would have gathered in a dining hall at the center. Despite the pandemic, the Center still wanted to create a sense of community. So, after the delivery of the 1,000 boxes of meals, the Center is hosting a Zoom call with the seniors who live in the nearby Isaac Houses and Holmes Towers to toast each other and to break bread electronically.
“I think [it] is particularly special and hopefully something that helps people feel connected…we’re doing it from home, but we’ll do the best we can to still make it something that we do together,” said Morris.
The Isaacs Center partnered with City Meals on Wheels, which has been providing home-delivered meals to homebound elderly New Yorkers since 1981.
Beth Shapiro, City Meals on Wheels’ Executive Director, was on hand today to say that the organization partners on Thanksgiving Day with 30 meals centers all around the city. While the city’s Department of Aging provides home-delivered meals during the week, City Meals on Wheels funds weekend, holiday and emergency meals.
“So, we have 25,000 meals being delivered all around the city, all five boroughs with 250 volunteers, and we’re here at Isaacs sharing the day and making sure that homebound elderly New Yorkers are getting a festive, nutritious, delicious meal at a time when they would otherwise be alone,” said Shapiro.
She added that since the start of the pandemic, the organization has already delivered 2 million meals, which is 50 percent more meals than all of last year. 800,000 of those are emergency meals for older New Yorkers, who are the most vulnerable to the pandemic and the most in need right now.
“One in 10 older New Yorkers were food insecure before the pandemic, and those numbers are only increasing with the pandemic; to be able to make sure that meals come to the door every day is critical for their survival, it’s their lifeline,” Shapiro said.
Lortesha White is a senior supervisor for Wildcat, a workforce development program that provides critical employment opportunities to individuals with histories of homelessness, incarceration and addiction. She was one of the 200 volunteers who was busy going back and forth delivering the holiday meals. It was important for her to be volunteering her time on Thanksgiving Day.
“It’s very important, I come from a community where we had problems with food and eating was always an issue at certain times, so to be able to give back to those that can’t be mobile and get to their families at this time, especially during this pandemic, it means a lot to me and it does definitely touches my heart,” said White.