Meals on Wheels gets new wheels thanks to city council allocation

Meals on wheels
Jim.henderson, CC BY 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Seniors who are homebound due to health or physical reasons and get hot meals delivered to them via the city’s popular Meals on Wheels program will soon get the food delivered in spanking new vehicles.

The City Council and the Department for the Aging (DFTA) under the Adams administration Tuesday agreed to allocate a little more than $3 million for new or repaired hotshot vans that deliver the food. Specifically, the money will go to 14 nonprofits that have contracts with DFTA to provide the service.

“Our seniors are the jewels of our communities who deserve to be supported with nutritious home-delivered meals,” said City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams (D-Queens). “The City Council prioritized investing $3 million of its funds to help community-based partners continue delivering meals in a safe and timely manner. It is critical that our city meets the needs of older adults, and this funding will contribute to the vital services for homebound New Yorkers.”

Speaker Adams’ office said the funding will go towards repair and replacement of an estimated 44 hotshot vans for the City’s home delivered meals program. The program serves millions of meals annually to older adults, and they are reviewed by registered dietitians to ensure they are nutritionally balanced.  

“For over 30 years, the home delivered meals program has provided hot, nutritious meals to our most vulnerable older adults across the five boroughs. Even at the height of the pandemic, program staff and volunteers never stopped delivering meals,” said Mayor Eric Adams. “I’m pleased that the funding we are announcing today will provide the vehicles necessary for this program to continue serving older New Yorkers for years to come. This is another step in creating a more equitable city we can all be proud to live in, and age together in.”  

DFTA Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez praised the nonprofits charged with carrying out the deliveries to every borough in the city.

“Our local partners throughout the city have been doing an incredible job making sure homebound older adults receive the meals they need, and this allocation from the City Council will ensure they have the equipment necessary to continue their services,” said Cortés-Vázquez of the 30-year-old program. “The home delivered meals program has been essential to making sure residents can age in dignity, and this allocation helps ensure we can continue our mission.”

The allocation was based on their current fleets, and the funds will be used for vans that have been in service for 10 years or more. There are currently 239 hotshot vans used by these partners across the five boroughs and they travel along 300 routes every day, accumulating wear and tear that necessitates this funding support. Hotshot vans are specifically designed to transport meals hot, cold or frozen to maintain their integrity and nutritional value.

Based on the condition of the van the organization will either donate them or salvage the older ones. Each new van will cost roughly $70,000, and when it comes to the new ones being gas or electric, that depends on what the organization wants to do and whatever gets them the best deal, according to a DFTA spokesperson.

“A total of 37 hotshot meal delivery vehicles are being used by Catholic Charities for Meals on Wheels Delivery. Replacing aging vehicles currently in use can help our services to improve nutritional efforts to bring food directly to seniors homes in any weather, keep seniors connected, safe and happy in their communities” said Samira Alieva, Vice-President of Older Adult Services, Catholic Charities Neighborhood Services Inc.  

In order to qualify for the program, residents must be 60 years or older, and unable to attend a group or meal program, or prepare their own meals. Before meals are delivered, each candidate is evaluated by a case manager to determine if the individual should be enrolled. In the last Fiscal Year providers delivered nearly four million meals. 

If you are 60 years or older and are interested in the Meals on Wheels program and/or other senior services click here.