Click here to read Glamour's "Women of the Year" profile of the founders and the origin story of Heart of Dinner. Watch the accompanying video above. For a factual note: at the 0:18 second time mark, the correct names are Moonlynn Tsai (LEFT) & Yin Chang (RIGHT).
Founded in NYC at the onset of COVID-19, Heart of Dinner's mission works to directly address food insecurity and isolation experienced by Asian American seniors—two long-standing community issues heightened by the pandemic. The underserved Asian American Elder population have historically been overlooked across the nation, where oftentimes low-income and homebound seniors live in socioeconomic, cultural, and linguistics isolation. Heart of Dinner curates and sources culturally thoughtful and nutritious food, then assembles the essential ingredients inside uniquely illustrated brown bags with handwritten love notes attached in the Elders' native languages to respect, honor, and dignify the cultural nuances across the Asian diaspora. The signature Heart of Dinner care packages are all hand-delivered to Elderly recipients in need for the nourishment of their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Nourishing NYC’s Asian elders with love and food every week.
Originally a supper club formed in 2015 bringing people together around a shared meal and sense of community, the duo quickly evolved their idea as the pandemic hit. Their late-night conversations about the global impact of COVID-19 and the heightened racism towards Asian Americans soon became questions around how to create positive change. The two have taken different paths in their respective lives and careers to reach the same goal: joyfully centering and uplifting people and communities. Shortly after, Yin and Moonlynn united their mutual loves of language and food to birth Heart of Dinner’s #LovingChinatown relief efforts in March 2020. Together as curators and caretakers, they are engaged in creative, culture-shifting acts that replace intolerance and despair with inclusion and love.
On April 1st 2020, the pair cooked the first-ever Heart of Dinner #LovingChinatown hot lunches for those most vulnerable around Manhattan's Chinatown area, with a focus on providing care and essential nourishment for the low-income and homebound elders. Documenting and sharing their on-the-grounds work on social media through posts and livestreams, the couple sparked a movement that snowballed into the support of a rapidly growing community of donors, community partners, volunteers, and independent business partners. Within a mere several weeks, the duo were able to expand the operations from a Chinatown-focused relief efforts to reach Elderly recipients living throughout Lower Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn. In the months since inception, their volunteer network grew globally, and with the tremendous support from donors, distribution partners, restaurant partners, and volunteers, the love-powered initiative scaled to provide over 100,000 meals in January 2022 and reached Elderly living all throughout Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn. The organization has been lauded by Time, Vogue, NBC and ABC News, Ellen, WSJ and Fortune, and they’ve been named Glamour Women of the Year.
What’s most meaningful has been the response from the Elderly themselves. One couple, ages 89 and 86, told them: “Thank you for caring for us; thank you for bringing us happiness; thank you for giving us something to look forward to each week. You all are our grandchildren. We love you all.” It's because of the collective support from the Heart of Dinner community that our mission has been able to continue providing the essentials necessary for survival for the Asian American senior citizen community in ways that nourish their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Heart of Dinner is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, tax ID 85-2676806. Help us hit our ambitious goal to provide ongoing support to our senior community with a tax-deductible donation.
Heart of Dinner was founded by partners in life and love, Yin Chang and Moonlynn Tsai.
New York born and raised actor and storyteller Yin Chang is most recognized for her role in beloved teen drama, Gossip Girl, opening up a long overdue conversation about Asian-American representation in Hollywood. As a short film producer and director, her work has gathered over 13 million views. Experiencing the lack of representation throughout her 15 year career in television and film, Yin launched online platform 88 Cups of Tea in 2015 to amplify diverse voices, nurturing creative writers to write themselves into the heroes of their own stories. 88 Cups of Tea’s podcast arm ranked in Apple's top 15 Literature & Arts podcasts, and featured in Apple’s top 20 Asian and Pacific American voices.
Moonlynn Tsai is a Taiwanese-American restaurateur and entrepreneur who grew up in Carlsbad, California, spending time at her parents’ Chinese-American restaurants leading front-of-house operations, back-end admin work, and marketing. Before committing to a career in hospitality, Moonlynn dabbled in various odd jobs, including buying and selling snuggies and shake weights on eBay. Over the past decade, she combined her lifelong passions for eateries and community building by bringing new hospitality concepts to life, including San Jose’s first craft beer bar; a Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant in Silver Lake; and a critically acclaimed restaurant on New York’s Lower East Side.