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Volunteers Deliver Holidays Meals To New Yorkers Too Sick To Cook For Themselves: 'Food Is Medicine'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Imagine being sick and homebound in the middle of a pandemic and the middle of a snowstorm.

Thanks to an army of volunteers, thousands of New Yorkers who can't go out will still get home cooked meals through the holidays.

Cooking up hundreds of pounds of meat and veggies, volunteers at God's Love We Deliver are used to preparing 10,000 meals a day.

Then, add to that a health crisis, the holidays, plus winter weather.

"Today, in preparation for the snowstorm, we're doubling that. We're doing over 20,000 meals today," President and CEO Karen Pearl told CBS2's Natalie Duddridge. "So our kitchen is going to be hopping."

It has been since the start of the pandemic when staffed upped meal production by 30%.

"When the city closed down in the middle of March, literately overnight, we got over 3,000 phone calls from people saying, 'I need help, wherever I was getting food is gone, it's closed,'" Pearl said.


What makes God's Love unique is they medically tailor each meal for New Yorkers too sick to cook for themselves.

This week for the holidays, it's a special winter feast of braised beef with cherry glaze, or salmon with caper relish, and for vegetarians, portobello mushroom casserole.

"Something we believe very strongly is that food is medicine, but it doesn't have to taste like medicine," said chef Daniel Metzger. "We have a team of nutritionists. We have people in a minced and puréed diet who have difficulty chewing. We have vegetarian options. We have pescatarian options."

It takes 17,000 volunteers to keep the program going, and it's a little different this year. Normally, they would be standing shoulder-to-shoulder. Instead, they're socially distanced, wearing hats, masks and gloves while getting the food ready to ship out.

"I started coming every day just to make sure that in the small ways that I could I was doing as much as I could," volunteer Natalie Pow said.

"They're tired, but we're going to get this thing done, nothing's going to stop us," Metzger added.

Every recipient also gets an extra guest meal to share with a friend or family member, so no one has to spend the holiday alone.

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