Heart of Dinner

Heart of Dinner Ending hunger and isolation for low-income Asian-American homebound elderly where we source, cook, and deliver culturally appropriate meals paired with handwritten letters and heartwarming illustrations.

Heart of Dinner Co-founders and romantic partners Yin Chang (actor-writer and founder of 88 Cups of Tea) and Moonlynn Tsai (restauranteur and co-owner/operator of Kopitiam) launched the #LOVINGCHINATOWN Covid-19 relief efforts initiative to counter the racism and isolation the Asian-American immigrant elderly have been experiencing throughout the pandemic. What initially began as late-night conversations sharing concern over the global impact of the coronavirus and the heightened xenophobia and racism towards Asian-Americans, grew into wondering about the different ways people could lean into their humanity and provide positive change. Through community-driven funding and generous donors, Heart of Dinner surpassed the first milestone of a 20,000 meal goal with the support of their community of restaurant partners, in-kind donors, volunteer care package delivery drivers, volunteer note-writers and brown bag illustrators. Heart of Dinner continues to offset the isolation and depression caused by the pandemic with handwritten notes of encouragement in Chinese and Korean, paired with nourishing meals that fill the gap in food insecurity while supporting local small businesses during their Covid-19 related recovery process. Join Heart of Dinner in reaching their next goal of providing 50,000 collective meals by donating to their Go Fundme to assist in resources.

Culinary Team: Moonlynn Tsai & Yin Chang

Attire: Casual

Operating as usual

Y’all!!!!! We have exciting news! Last Wednesday we reached and exceeded 30K meals! (30,123) This has been in the form o...
10/11/2020

Y’all!!!!! We have exciting news! Last Wednesday we reached and exceeded 30K meals! (30,123) This has been in the form of not only hot meals but also grocery care packages and bulk groceries! We've been providing our meals in our community's hand-illustrated bags attached with handwritten letters. Our elderly recipients are a mixture of seniors under the care of social services organizations (the staff of those orgs pick up our meals to then distribute door-to-door to their clients) and homebound seniors not affiliated with social services organizations where we have our own community of volunteers who pick up our meals and delivery door-to-door throughout Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn!

We have been doing this work over the span of 28 Wednesdays and we're thrilled to announce that we're on track to reach our 2nd goal of 50k meals!

FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS, THANK YOU SO MUCH TO ALL OF YOU WHO'VE TAKEN THE TIME TO DONATE, FUNDRAISE, VOLUNTEER, SPREAD THE WORD, AND THE INCREDIBLE RESTAURANT PARTNERS WHO'VE ENABLED US TO REACH THIS MILESTONE Saigon Social NYC Partybus Bakeshop Bessou Nowon NYC Golden Diner AND FOR YOUR TIRELESS SUPPORT💕💕💕🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉

It’s our 6 year anniversary today😍! Also, 5 years ago (in LA) was when we came up with Heart of Dinner—which began as a ...
10/09/2020

It’s our 6 year anniversary today😍! Also, 5 years ago (in LA) was when we came up with Heart of Dinner—which began as a technology-free supper club of strangers gathering over our 10.5ft dinner table (handmade by Yin & her bff) with a focus on comfort meals and heart-to-heart conversations. These dinners were donation based with proceeds going to food-based non-profits to alleviate food insecurity. Now in NYC, not so much a supper club (due to our apartment being the size of a shoebox, though we plan to host upcoming ones in the future!) but we maintain the same ethos of providing comfort meals driven by heart through our #lovingchinatown initiative. Thank you for shaping this initiative with us. ❤️

Our dear friend @judy.kim not only warmly welcomed us into her art studio and hosted our Heart of Dinner care packages o...
10/01/2020

Our dear friend @judy.kim not only warmly welcomed us into her art studio and hosted our Heart of Dinner care packages operations during the summer, she immediately planned a fundraiser on our behalf as soon as she learned we’ve been hanging on by a thread with our funding. We are doing our best to push through and rest easy knowing we can at least operate through winter, the harshest season coming upon us, especially for our Po-Po’s and Gong-Gong’s when food insecurity will peak again. But at this moment, we have just enough to push us through October. Judy has been raffling her homemade Confetti Olive Oil Cake to benefit our work, a layered olive oil cake filled with lemon and kumquat curd covered in swiss merengue buttercream confetti. This is a NYC pickup only and TODAY IS THE LAST DAY TO ENTER😱! If you’d love to support, click on the link in her bio for raffle tickets (each ticket is $10!) Thank you to each of you for your support and getting us this far! #lovingchinatown

We'd love to spotlight those of you who've joined our efforts in ending hunger and isolation for our Po-Po's and Gong-Go...
09/29/2020

We'd love to spotlight those of you who've joined our efforts in ending hunger and isolation for our Po-Po's and Gong-Gong's, our homebound elderly Asian-Americans!

We want to share your stories with our community, so if you are comfortable sharing with the public, email us a photo of you and your grandparent (or a pic of you and your elderly parent) at [email protected] and please be sure to include 1-3 paragraphs sharing why Heart of Dinner's efforts resonates with you, why you felt compelled to join our cause, and how you contributed to enable us to do this work (donated tangible or in-kind donations to directly fund our operations, wrote notes in Chinese or Korean, illustrated bags, delivered our meals, etc.) Side note, a flashback photo of you as a baby/kid with your Grandparent is always encouraged!

Here's some jargon we have to state for your knowledge, basically, we just want to make sure we can post what you share with us: By emailing us at Heart of Dinner with your photo and your story, you agree to allow Heart of Dinner to distribute and disseminate the content in any manner related to Heart of Dinner. You also agree to allow Heart of Dinner to retain rights to the content for all public distribution. #lovingchinatown

09/27/2020

Hi Heart of Dinner Family! Hope you had a good weekend resting and recharging ❤️ We’re beginning the process of building out our team of volunteers for our behind-the-scenes operations. If you have certain strengths and skill sets you’d love to contribute to the building out of our non-profit (we’re looking to fill both remote and in-person roles), please click on the link in our bio and fill out the application listed as the second button that says “VOLUNTEER: Would you like to help us with BTS operations for our non-profit”. Thank you for your time and your interest in helping us continue our work! 🙏❤️#lovingchinatown

Care packages of love thoughtfully delivered door-to-door to our po-po’s and gong-gong’s. These cuties are packed with y...
09/23/2020

Care packages of love thoughtfully delivered door-to-door to our po-po’s and gong-gong’s. These cuties are packed with yu choy, scallions, tofu, yams, soy milk, bananas, apples, sleeves of garlic, freshly baked scallion buns from @partybusbakeshop, and hot lunches from @bessounyc. ❤️ Thank you so much @kayuan_ for delivering this route on and capturing these beautiful photos!! 💕 If you spot your handwritten notes or your illustrated bags, let us know with a comment below, we want to tag you!!😍 #lovingchinatown

Hi Friends!! Please check out our Instagram stories to see the details of the two different routes we need help with for...
09/23/2020

Hi Friends!! Please check out our Instagram stories to see the details of the two different routes we need help with for tomorrow, Wednesday September 23rd. Please spread the word, thank you so much!

It’s official! We’ve been so antsy sitting on this news and are thrilled to finally be able to share that we are now ope...
09/18/2020

It’s official! We’ve been so antsy sitting on this news and are thrilled to finally be able to share that we are now operating out of @essexmarket every Wednesday!!!!! We’ve been such fans of #EssexMarket since we first learned about their move to this newest location, just several blocks from our own home, we’d visit their vendors on the day-to-day— from their fresh seafood vendor New Star Fish, to Essex Farm that carries fresh produce, to our favorite cheese shop @formaggio_essex, to our favorite smoked salmon selections at @nordicpreserves, to each and every one of the eateries. As soon as we surpassed the 20,000 meal goal, the team at Essex Market reached out to us to see how they could best lend a hand to further our cause. It couldn’t have been more kismet, right at that very moment, we’d started worrying about our next temporary location. @cpc_nyc so kindly welcomed us into their Michelin-worthy commercial kitchen to operate throughout August and they were going to need their space to operate for their daycare programs come September. We’re so grateful they housed us for the month and needed to find a more long-term space from September onwards. And BOOM. Essex Market just showed up like magic. One phone call with the team (huge heartfelt shoutout to Eliza and Lauren!!) and they made it all happen quickly and efficiently so we could operate with a peace of mind. We feel right at home here, starting each Wednesday with coffee at @cafedavignon @portoricoimportingco, grabbing breakfast at one of the vendors like @pueblamexicanfood1, and grabbing rotating lunch options for our volunteer delivery drivers at the vendors like @eatgai @millenonne @nijapanese.

It feels absolutely surreal that “our” market that we’d proudly bring family and friends visiting from out of town is now sponsoring their entire mezzanine floor for #HeartofDinner. 🤯🤯🤯Call us starstruck!! Thank you, thank you, thank you to the entire @essexmarket for the warmest welcome that one could ever wish for. We are honored to be able to come together in this way, thank you for your generosity and giant hearts for housing our operations!🥺❤️ HUGE THANK YOU to @danahn17 for documenting our work!!

Just look at this beautiful Steamed Bokchoy & Shallot Baked Chicken dish that our first-restaurant-partner-ever @saigons...
09/14/2020

Just look at this beautiful Steamed Bokchoy & Shallot Baked Chicken dish that our first-restaurant-partner-ever @saigonsocialnyc lovingly created for the Heart of Dinner elderly recipients of @hamiltonmadisonhouse! Deeply appreciative and grateful to our restaurant family who go over and beyond to provide senior-friendly meals that are culturally thoughtful and packed with nutrition. They’ve been doing this week after week after week throughout the entire pandemic. Helen Nguyen of Saigon Social packed the meals with the Hamilton seniors’ favorite BOK CHOY, chicken thigh lightly marinated in onions, shallots, and chicken stock over a bed of perfectly prepared rice drizzled with chicken jus for the softness and natural depth of flavoring. Every Wednesday, the Po-po’s and Gong-gong’s at Hamilton-Madison House receive hot lunches from Saigon Social NYC paired with freshly baked and incredibly aromatic and flavorful scallion buns that Jacqueline Russo Eng of Partybus Bakeshop custom created just for our seniors, all packed inside YOUR illustrated brown bags with handwritten notes in Chinese! Grateful to the kind staff at Hamilton for constantly showing up for our Ah-ma’s and Ah-gong’s, picking up our meals and delivering door-to-door. Swipe right to see photos of some of our elderly recipients. 🥺❤️We are constantly in awe of this community. We ❤️ you! [Photo credit of the dishes by Saigon Social. Photo credit of the elderly by Hamilton-Madison team, photos posted with their permission.] #lovingchinatown

After adjusting and learning about our delivery routes over the past few months, we created a brand new application form...
09/08/2020

After adjusting and learning about our delivery routes over the past few months, we created a brand new application form for those of you who are interested in volunteering to deliver our meals to homebound elderly recipients throughout Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. To sign up, please click here: https://88cupsoftea.typeform.com/to/eUlawGm7! If you filled out our previous application form, please fill out this new form in the case that you are still interested in volunteering as our requirements and needs have evolved throughout Covid, and your work schedules are also evolving during this time. #lovingchinatown [1st photo by @yigesun @kayuan_ , 2nd & 3rd photo by @_jubjub_ @stephaniehshih]

Imagine making your way home exhausted from yet another round of your usual dialysis treatment, as soon as you walk thro...
09/07/2020

Imagine making your way home exhausted from yet another round of your usual dialysis treatment, as soon as you walk through the hallway towards your apartment door you see a brown bag hanging on the door knob. You make your way closer and now you see it’s not any ordinary bag but a beautifully illustrated one with the characters 愛心餐, and attached to the top of the bag is a handwritten note reminding you that you are loved and being thought of, and that you’ve got this 加油. You lift the bag to peek inside and immediately smell something deliciously aromatic and savory as you notice a loaf of bread and a box of dinner. To your delight, it’s still warm. And through these gestures you see that there are kind strangers around you who care, who love you, who want you to know that you matter to them.

That feeling of wonder, hope, and joy are the feelings we aim to deliver each and every time for our Ah-ma’s and Ah-gong’s.

We recently learned that the elderly recipient living in this apartment was away for her dialysis treatment when our meals were being delivered. It was a reality that was new for us to hear and brought a deeper sense of purpose seeing this photo, the bag symbolizing our collective community waiting to welcome her back home, to wrap her in a warm hug through nourishment of the mind and body and soul. You all make this possible. Let’s keep showing up. ❤️ [📸 @kneelb4zhad] #lovingchinatown

Be still, our beating hearts. When we first started the #lovingchinatown initiative, it was a dream goal for us to reach...
09/06/2020

Be still, our beating hearts. When we first started the #lovingchinatown initiative, it was a dream goal for us to reach the homebound Ah-ma’s and Po-po’s living on their own but that needed a foundation of logistics that would involve volunteers that we did not yet have, and a route of elderly recipients that did not yet know. To avoid delaying time during one of the worst moments of food insecurity as we were approaching the peak of the pandemic, we quickly reached out to social services organizations and arranged for their staff to pick up our meals—we cooked hot lunches and placed orders for cases of fresh produce and pantry essentials to pass on to the staff who would then distribute door-to-door to the elderly in their communities. About 2 months into the start of our initiative, we started building out that dream goal to provide culturally thoughtful nourishment to the elderly living on their own without ties to a social services organization, and we couldn’t be more proud that our care packages have been making their way throughout Lower Manhattan (mainly Chinatown), Brooklyn, and Queens. Deeply grateful to you for your donations that have enabled us to buy these ingredients and the hot lunches/dinners from our restaurant partners, and to all of you who have contributed your time writing notes in Chinese/Korean, illustrated bags, and our beloved drivers who have been delivering our care packages of love and encouragement (and spending time chatting with our elderly recipients, many of them who are isolated and looking forward to these weekly deliveries for a chance to have some company!) 📸 thank you @stephaniehshih for the photos! [Permission from the elderly were granted to take these photos.]

Please swipe through all slides for volunteer requests for both handwritten notes in Chinese or Korean & brown bag illus...
09/05/2020

Please swipe through all slides for volunteer requests for both handwritten notes in Chinese or Korean & brown bag illustrations. Keep ‘em rolling in please! An ongoing weekly/bi-weekly/monthly mailing or drop-off is tremendously helpful for us to stay caught up with our meals. For ALL questions about our notes/bags, make sure to read through this post & the URL provided in the slides. THANK YOU 🙏❤️ [For dimensions of notes, bags, and all other questions— be sure to visit our site. Swipe for the URL.] ❤️Special thank you to @nkpcreate for keeping our graphics fresh and aesthetically pleasing to read!! #lovingchinatown

There was a homebound senior living in Sheepshead Bay that was accidentally missed on last Wednesday’s care package deli...
09/02/2020

There was a homebound senior living in Sheepshead Bay that was accidentally missed on last Wednesday’s care package delivery route because we didn’t have her address properly saved in our Google Doc😩. We received a call from the Po-Po wondering if she should continue to wait for the care package. We were horrified. She was so kind to tell us not to worry and that she had no problem eating less that week and is so happy for the following week’s care package. Knowing she’s in her 80’s, homebound, living on her own, and eagerly waiting for the package at home all day along with the company of seeing a new face during isolation— there was just no way we could have her wait another week.
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The Chinatown supermarkets were getting ready to close by the time we got off the call so it was too late to prep and deliver a package of groceries to her that evening. Frantically trying to figure out how to get groceries to her, we suddenly received a text from @andytrust, following up from just a few hours earlier in the day when he dropped off illustrated bags with his friend and fellow volunteer @jmewan at @cpc_nyc’s commercial kitchen where we were operating out of, mentioning that he would love the chance to take on our future deliveries if we ever needed help. Just 5 minutes after saying our good-bye’s with the Po-Po (and what continued to be a really lovely chat for about an hour😍), we remembered we received a text notification from him during our call with the Po-Po. We reached out and asked if he’d be free to head about an hour out to Sheepshead Bay the next morning to deliver ONE care package. We were met with zero hesitation, only excitement to help. We then called the Po-Po back and asked if we could drop off a package for her the next day, she was so concerned that we were making a trip out just for her so we fibbed a bit to put her at ease saying our friends were actually on the way there for lunch so it would be perfect timing!
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The next day, Po-Po left us a voicemail after she got back from the doctors appt sounding like she was in tears. We were both so moved. Thank you, Andy and to everyone in this beautiful community for making our elderly feel loved.

Look who’s in the The Wall Street Journal this weekend?? Massive heartfelt *THANK YOU* to all who’ve made #heartofdinner...
08/24/2020

Look who’s in the The Wall Street Journal this weekend?? Massive heartfelt *THANK YOU* to all who’ve made #heartofdinner what it is today. Thank you Charlotte Druckman for taking the time to unearth Moonlynn’s story, the foods in our household that bring her joy, what she does on the only day her restaurant is closed, and giving us here at Heart of Dinner a massive spotlight and bringing about awareness of our #LovingChinatown initiative!

A shoutout to the brilliant Alex Lau for capturing these photos. Thank you to James Park for your heartfelt and beautifully handwritten note in Korean, our volunteer Nicole for your handwritten notes in Chinese (Nicole has consistently given us hundreds of notes multiple times over the past 4 months and we are sure we have collected thousands from her—we’re deeply touched that our community volunteers their efforts in this way, THANK YOU, Nicole!!), Helen Lee’s out-of-this-world, next-level artistry of the most elegant birds on our brown bags for the Heart of Dinner care packages. Volunteers have been telling us that our senior recipients have been cutting out and saving the front of the bags as a keepsake— it means so much to the elderly that our community pours their time into each and every detail of these deliveries. 🥺🙏❤️ A special thank you to Chinese-American Planning Council, the very first social services organization we onboarded and are now heading into our 5th month working together to provide culturally thoughtful meals for their senior recipients— you’ll see pictured in the main photo is their commercial kitchen space they generously invited us to operate out of as the temporary Heart of Dinner headquarters in August!

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You both are amazing and we need more people in this world like YOU! I was in tears watching you on the TODAY show this morning. Thank you for restoring faith in my heart! #AsiansRock #ThreeKumikos #ProudToBeAsian #LoveIsLoveIsLove