Feeding New Yorkers in need was an ongoing struggle prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. But in setting up its year-end Five County Challenge fundraiser back in the fall, the Food Bank for New York City quoted a sobering statistic — unemployment in Queens had quadrupled from 2019.

On Christmas Day, Citymeals on Wheels delivered more than 24,000 meals to the homebound elderly, many unable to shop or cook for themselves or even leave their homes.

Citymeals said last week that one in 10 seniors in the city experienced food insecurity before Covid-19, and that the demand has only grown since.

Both organizations are asking for people to help them with the new year expected to be at least equally tough.

The Food Bank, an agency that works with more than 1,000 charities and providers to make sure people in need have enough to eat, was direct in a press release issued Monday,

”2020 is coming to a close — and 2021 is shaping up to be our most demanding year yet,” according to the statement.

The organization is asking people to visit its website foodbanknyc.org and donate for the start of the new year.

“The economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed our resources to the brink,” the Food Bank said. “Since March, 39 percent of the soup kitchens and food pantries in our network have closed, a majority of which were in high-need areas.”

The group said every dollar donated will help provide five meals for low-income residents, including children and seniors.

Information on donating to Citymeals on Wheels is available online at citymeals.org.

“The people we serve are the hidden hungry,” said Citymeals on Wheels Executive Director Beth Shapiro. “They can no longer walk to the grocery store or to a food pantry to get what they need. But growing old shouldn’t mean you’re invisible. This year our dedicated staff and volunteers have rallied like never before to nourish both body and soul, providing meals and a true connection for their isolated older neighbors.”

— Michael Gannon

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