Elderly Ridgeites receive free chef-prepared meals

One hundred elderly and disabled Bay Ridge residents received free meals earlier this month as part of a program that sends chef-prepared meals to homebound senior citizens around the city once a month.

A Citymeals-on-Wheels auxiliary program, Chefs Deliver, gathers chefs from independently-managed meal centers to cook and deliver meals to a rotating set of neighborhoods once a month. Friday, August 7, it worked with the food delivery service Munchery to send the grub.

“It’s both a meal and companionship,” Beth Shapiro, Citymeals’ executive director, said. “Forty percent [of our clients] never leave their homes. [Many] are alone. It’s good to deliver to their homes and make sure they’re okay. It’s a real connection to the outside.”

Gregorio Gonzalez, a Chefs Deliver and Munchery chef, cooked lemon-thyme roasted chicken thighs with mashed potatoes and steamed green beans for the Ridgeites.Chef Gonzalez

Citymeals-on-Wheels sends meals daily to Bay Ridge residents enrolled in its program, but August 7 was the first time Chefs Deliver brought the chef-prepared meals.

“It used to be very unusual, but following Hurricane Sandy our co-director Chef Daniel Boulud had chefs around the city prepare meals,” Shapiro said about the volume of meals prepared for Bay Ridge. “The following year, he decided he wanted to really expand the program and [so] he started the Chefs Deliver program.”

Citymeals says there are no financial requirements for someone to receive meals. The registered client must have a chronic physical or mental disability—such as severe arthritis or scoliosis—that prevents him or her shopping for food or preparing meals.

“It is a vital, vital lifeline and people are appreciative….They’re hidden neighbors,” Shapiro said about the clients. “They’re in every building and you just don’t know they’re there because they don’t often come out.”

Each client can provide a contribution for a meal based on what he or she can pay.
Nine meal centers in Brooklyn serve 5,275 people for the daily program, according to Citymeals, which donors, its Board of Directors and the city fund. The average age of Citymeals recipients is 82.

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