Citymeals on Wheels volunteers did not take a break Christmas Day from delivering hot meals to the homebound elderly.
Across New York City, 22,000 meals have been prepared and are getting delivered Tuesday.
Hundreds of these meals were prepared at Trevor Day School on the Upper East Side, which donated its kitchen and cafeteria space to Citymeals on Wheels — allowing for more than 400 meals to be cooked. Three hundred of those meals will be cooked for the homebound while the rest will be served as part of a holiday party.
Head chef Jeffrey Stewart whipped up Cornish hen, potatoes, mac and cheese and so many other dishes, to be packaged and delivered to the homebound elderly.
Stewart, who has been with Citymeals for 30 years, has a personal connection.
“I was raised with my grandmother, so the level I have for cooking and having a great time with the seniors is so wonderful to me,” Stewart said.
Meanwhile, for assistant chef Jaeson Europe, who helped prepare the meals, the program also touches his heart. His grandmother was a Citymeals on Wheels recipient.
“It’s a good thing knowing that you can’t get out but at least you have a home cooked meal coming to you,” he said.
Rachel Sherrow, from Citymeals of Wheels, also stresses the importance of the program.
“Over 40 percent of our neighbors are alone, many rarely leave their homes,” Sherrow said. “So this is really, really important for us to be able to say ‘hello’ and give them a hug.”
For these volunteers, who are going from one apartment to another, they’re delivering a meal and sharing time with someone who may be craving conversation.
“They like to share with you what their lives were, whatever their profession was. You see the values that they have. It’s beautiful,” volunteer Melissa O’Dell said, adding that it is the volunteers who “get much more out” of the experience.
Some of the volunteers had an early start Christmas morning, arriving at the school around 4 a.m. with some staying late into the afternoon.
It’s may be a long day, but they say they’re happy to do it.