Bronx mother and daughter side-by-side fighting hunger in NYC

Monica Makes It Happen

THE BRONX — The COVID-19 pandemic has made New York City’s hunger crisis even worse.  

One Bronx mother and daughter are working together helping the city feed seniors in need, in a big way. The CityMeals on Wheels warehouse in the Bronx on Drake Street is their central hub, where every week, 5,000 meals are packed and distributed. 

That’s where you will find Magda Melendez and Liz Cantillo, both managers at Citymeals on wheels in the Bronx. Working side-by-side everyday, they are in charge.

Their co-workers have a name for them.  

“They are a dynamic duo. They get it done. They work in sync really,” said Ottis Lewis, one of the workers on their team.  

There’s a reason they work so well together helping people. It’s a family affair with a purpose. 

They come from a tightknit family, from the Crotona section of the Bronx. Melendez has worked here for 23 years. Cantillo says she practically grew up in the warehouse watching  her mom help others.

Her mom is her best friend, and has now become her mentor and hero.

“It’s been great for our friendship. She used to tell me what to do all the time. Now she listens, now we are co-workers and bosses and manage this warehouse and do so together,” said Cantillo.  

They both manage teams of dozens of workers, putting together thousands of boxes of food for seniors across the city. 

“It’s been amazing to work with my daughter, to have her by my side, to learn from each other, have our relationship, and see the woman she had become,” said Melendez.  

Melendez says it feels good knowing her daughter is following in her footsteps. By the way, both their husbands work at the warehouse too.

Throughout the pandemic, CityMeals on Wheels has provided over 3 million meals to elderly New Yorkers. If you want donate or volunteer, go to their website.  

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