QJCC hopes for new Citymeals help

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As the Queens Jewish Community Council struggles to fund its weekend meal program for seniors without Citymeals-on-wheels, the food program said its contract was only for a year and to serve ambulatory seniors.

“It was our understanding that these were people who were coming in to pick up their meals and then leaving with them,” said Beth Shapiro, executive director of Citymeals-on-Wheels.

But Cynthia Zalisky, executive director of the QJCC in Forest Hills, said her organization had been using the Citymeals-on-Wheels funds, which were set to be discontinued Friday, to deliver kosher meals to the homes of seniors about the age of 87 with some 90-year-olds and over.

“I don’t have young seniors. I have Boomers’ parents,” Zalisky said. “We are dealing with very old people.”

Shapiro said Citymeals-on-Wheels is a nonprofit funded through private sources that supplements the city’s weekday senior meal delivery program. The organization has a relationship with the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, a Manhattan-based organization affiliated with multiple Jewish organizations throughout the city, including the QJCC.

Shapiro said when another organization pulled its portion of the funding for the QJCC’s meal program, the Met Council spoke to Citymeals on the QJCC’s behalf.

“We stepped in and said we would fund the program for one year,” Shapiro said.

Citymeals never funded the program in full, but did fund a significant portion of it.

She said the contract ended Dec. 31, although the organization was able to assist until the end of January due to a donor who designated the funds for the QJCC’s meal program.

Shapiro said the funds were given with the understanding that the seniors were ambulatory. She said the organization is trying to work to help with the funding

“Our intention is to continue to nourish home-bound elderly New Yorkers and, if these people are deemed, assessed to be home-bound by the case management, they would be on Citymeals program,” she said.

Despite this, Zalisky said the seniors she served were on waiting lists to get on the systems for home-bound seniors. She said while she knew the contract with Citymeals was for a limited time, she had hoped to have an earlier warning as it is difficult to solicit funding before the new fiscal year.

“I’m hoping Citymeals will rethink it or help us out,” she said. “But I really want to say that we are grateful, and tremendously grateful, for them.”

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4564.

Updated 9:02 pm, January 31, 2013
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