OUT TO LUNCH: In lieu of its annual Power Lunch for Women, Citymeals on Wheels will take its predominantly women’s event online to YouTube on Nov. 18 at 7 p.m.
Billed as “More Than a Meal,” this month’s event will feature such entertainers and creatives as Meryl Streep, Michael Kors, Karlie Kloss, Sterling K. Brown, Bernadette Peters, Billy Crystal, Neil Patrick Harris, Liam Neeson and Michael Kors. Some will be performing, others will be reading letters from recipients and a few will be discussing their longtime affiliations with the organization, according to Pat Wexler, a Citymeals on Wheels board member. The lineup will include José Andrés, Daniel Boulud, David Burtka, Mario Cantone, Bravo’s “Top Chef” judge Gail Simmons, Harry Connick Jr., Billy Crystal, Tina Fey, Colin Jost, Jane Krakowski, LL Cool J, Charlie Palmer and others.
Rather than honor individuals, this year’s More Than a Meal event will celebrate the work of the organization’s volunteers. Admission for the virtual gathering ranges from $500 to $25,000.
The group has delivered 1.4 million meals since the coronavirus took hold in the U.S. More than 18,000 homebound elderly rely on the delivered meals. Citymeals added more than 3,000 recipients to its home-delivered meal program since the pandemic started and is also serving more than 34,000 New Yorkers, who are at-risk for hunger.
“This is the only way that these people can stay at home and not be in facilities. We know what happens to elderly people, who are in facilities,” said Wexler, alluding to the potential for COVID-19 cases to spike in housing for the elderly. “The majority of people, who are home, are women. The men have veterans’ benefits and homes to go to. Women usually outlive their spouses or partners, and are left at home alone. Most don’t have veterans’ benefits or additional income.”
”I’m offering a consultation and $500 toward a treatment for new patients, who want to contribute to Meals on Wheels. It’s new ways of getting people involved, who don’t actually have to come to the event,” said Wexler, who has been involved with the organization for 33 years. “I’ve always been interested in meeting the elderly homebound. Especially now with the vulnerability, these are people who really can’t get out and go shopping for their food. In the winter months, it’s even harder for them.”
There are 1.7 million New Yorkers over the age of 60. Ninety-two percent of Meals on Wheels recipients, all of whom are homebound and elderly, would not be able to continue to live at home without the free meals, according to Wexler.