Why They’re Food Heroes: Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Heart of Dinner has served more than 80,000 meals to NYC’s East Asian community, simultaneously fighting the food insecurity and social isolation that frequently impacts East Asian elders. They deliver weekly packages to East Asian elders with culturally relevant, hot food; fresh produce; and handwritten letters (written in the native language of the recipient). Heart of Dinner works to confront racism against the Asian Americans and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, which became especially malicious after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their goal is to reach 250,000 meals delivered to people in this community in need.
Background: Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Yin Chang and Moonlynn Tsai had been considering starting Heart of Dinner since at least 2015, envisioning it as a supper club. Moonlynn Tsai is a restaurateur, and Yin Chang was known for her role in the drama television series Gossip Girl and for her podcast 88 Cups of Tea. They have been partners for more than six years.
Work: Heart of Dinner’s #LovingChinatown food relief effort kicked off on April 1, 2020, delivering meals to vulnerable East Asian elders (notably the homebound) in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Local restaurants, including Partybus Bakeshop, Saigon Social, Cervo’s, Nowon, Fong On and Essex Market, have donated their kitchen space to be used to cook the meals, and community volunteers help by packing/delivering meals, writing notes, and more. Through the support of volunteers, businesses, and donors of food and money, the organization was able to expand their services to reach East Asian communities in Queens and Brooklyn.
Awards, Praise and Honors: Yin Chang and Moonlynn Tsai were featured on the viral photoblog Humans of New York, and were featured as New Yorkers of the Week by NY1. Furthermore, the pair was honored among TimeOut’s 2021 Women of the Year.
Location: Chinatown, Manhattan
Resources and References:
- How Heart of Dinner Delivers 65,000+ Meals to Elderly Asian New Yorkers (Eater)
- Caring During COVID: NYC Nonprofit Delivers Meals To Asian Elders (NBC News)
- New Yorker of the Week: Moonlynn Tsai and Yin Chang (NY1)
- Gossip Girl Star Yin Chang Becomes HONY Sensation as She Reveals Incredible Cct of Kindness (Hello Magazine)
- “Gossip Girl” Star Yin Chang on Nelly Yuki & “Reductive” Representation (Teen Vogue)
- Deaths Dip in N.Y. and N.J. as Reopening Plans Take Shape (New York Times)
- The Takeout: Food Insecurity and Food Access: How do we Feed our Most Vulnerable AAPI Populations?(Museum of Food and Drink)
- People Are Writing Notes to Comfort Elderly Asian New Yorkers (Vice)
- Heart of Dinner: Card Rewards Donations Can Support Meal and Grocery Deliveries to East Asian Seniors (Card Rates)
- How Entrepreneurs of Color Pivoted During COVID-19 (Time)
- Heart of Dinner Feeds the Elderly in NYC’s Chinatown | Food & Wine (Food & Wine)
- Moonlynn Tsai And Yin Chang On Serving The Elderly And Fighting Pandemic Racism (Zagat)
- This Queer Couple Is Feeding NYC’s Chinese Elders With a Loving Touch (them.)