Yin Chang and Moonlynn Tsai, Heart of Dinner: COVID-19 Food Heroes

by NYC Food Policy Editor

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

Website: Heart of Dinner, Facebook, Instagram

Resources and References: 

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