Nourishing Bodies and Souls

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The need for Citymeals and World Central Kitchen has never been greater

According to the United Nations World Food Programme, some 828 million people go to bed hungry every night; 49 million are on the brink of starvation.  But it’s not because of food shortages. The world’s farmers annually produce enough food to feed 10 billion people; the world’s population is 7.6 billion. The math is clear.

The problem, says the WFP “is access and availability, both of which are disrupted by things like extreme weather, food waste, one’s gender and—worst of all—conflict.” Two organizations in particular—World Central Kitchen (WCK) and Citymeals on Wheels—have led the way in getting food and sustenance to food-insecure populations wherever and whenever it’s needed.

WCK provides fresh meals in response to humanitarian, climate, geopolitical and community crises—on the ground, all over the world. Since its founding in 2010 by renowned chef and restauranteur José Andrés, WCK has organized meals in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Nicaragua, Zambia, Peru, Cuba, Uganda, the Bahamas, Cambodia, the United States and, most recently, Ukraine.

Within hours of Russia’s invasion last February, WCK quickly set up a pedestrian border crossing in southern Poland, serving hot meals and mobilizing teams of cooks at multiple distribution points. Today, as many of those who fled Ukraine begin to return, WCK is busier than ever in that war-torn country, providing fresh meals and food kits day after day in areas under fire, in recently liberated towns and on the frontline.

“We know that good food provides not only nourishment, but also comfort and hope, especially in times of crisis,” says Andrés.

The same could be said by Citymeals, founded in 1981 by restaurant critic Gael Greene and cookbook author James Beard. After reading in a New York Times article that thousands of homebound elderly had little or nothing to eat on weekends and holidays, they rallied their friends in the food world, raising $35,000 to provide meals for their most vulnerable neighbors that Christmas. Today, Citymeals delivers more than 2.8 million meals a year to some 20,000 isolated, aged New Yorkers in every borough.

Citymeal’s work has been especially crucial throughout the pandemic. With senior centers largely shuttered, many once-independent older New Yorkers had no place to go for everyday meals and holiday celebrations and became homebound, isolated and unsure where their next meal would come from. As more struggled to get the food they need, the organization added 3,000 new meal recipients to its regular weekend delivery routes—a 10% increase.

Citymeals also distributes shelf-stable meals during emergencies and in advance of harsh weather events, as well as bags of stable food to those most at risk of malnutrition. And the organization’s Friendly Visiting program pairs compassionate individuals with homebound elderly neighbors in need of companionship. Through regular visits in the meal recipients’ homes, these unique relationships quickly grow into lasting friendships.

It’s at this time of year that the pain of loneliness and food insufficiency becomes especially difficult to bear—and the work of World Central Kitchen and Citymeals gains even greater importance. Carpenter Group is honored to make a donation to both groups this holiday season.