Too many words, too little space. Grateful doesn’t even cut it. Please swipe right to read our words. 🙏❤️ #lovingchinatown
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
Too many words, too little space. Grateful doesn’t even cut it. Please swipe right to read our words. 🙏❤️ #lovingchinatown
THIS is what it’s all about— As much as we love to, it’s not often that we get to meet our elderly recipients as we have no choice but to spend our limited time focusing on logistics and orchestrating the backend pieces. And let us tell you, this voicemail was an absolute treat and joy to receive. You best believe it got us crying when we first heard it (ok, we will admit, we cried even after hearing it on repeat multiple times), reminding us so much of our own Ah-ma and Po-po. 🥺❤️
This kind elderly recipient you hear is deeply moved and touched by the love, the care, and the heart we’ve all poured into Heart of Dinner’s #LovingChinatown initiative. We have been hanging on and hanging tight, pushing through each week for the past near-8 months because of the Ah-ma’s and Po-po’s like the one you hear in this voicemail. We’re grateful to you all for enabling us to keep reaching our Po-po’s and Gong-gong’s with as much love and care as we are able to.
Thank you SO much to each and every one of you who took the time out of your day to DM us about translating this voicemail for us today. We are truly lucky to receive so many volunteers. A massive heartfelt THANK YOU to @susannayoon who DM’d us IMMEDIATELY. Susanna translated the voicemail thoughtfully and beautifully, and she even took the extra time to include very detailed time markers for each phrase for accuracy. Susanna also so happens to be one of the most humble, gracious, and generous people we have met and come together out of a shared love for showing up in different ways for our community. She is one of the ONLY minority chocolatiers in the world who owns her own shop @swmsweets, and we are in AWE of this superhuman who takes the time to take care of us (going grocery shopping and surprising us with all the delicious and thoughtful goodies) while running a powerhouse business! We are just blown away by every single person who has shown up during this time. Much love to you all🙏❤️ [Thank you to @danahn17 who took one of our favorite behind-the-scenes photos at @essexmarket where they’ve kindly welcomed us into their space to operate on our usual Wednesdays!]
We are here, we are here. Feels like we’re finally able to come up for air a week away from our 8th month of operating our #LovingChinatown initiative. We are deeply proud of this community, how each and every one of you have risen to join us in providing hope, love, and nourishment for our Po-Po’s, Gong-Gong’s, Ah-ma’s, and Ah-Gong’s. From your donations and your fundraising efforts, to your help in spreading the awareness about our mission, to your time and volunteering efforts— your ironclad support and generosity and big hearts are the reason we’ve been able to push forward month-by-month. And because of you, we have never felt safer especially in such uncertain times during the pandemic— thank you for having our back, we see it and we feel it and we’ve never felt so supported.
A very special heartfelt thank you and our deepest gratitude to Vivian Chen @vc_legal who has been following Heart of Dinner’s journey since the peak of Covid, and has volunteered her time and efforts to deliver our care packages to our most challenging route throughout Chinatown, and approached us out of the generosity of her own time and efforts to encourage and convince us to turn Heart of Dinner into a 501(c)(3), taking care of ALL the filing fees, paperwork, and spending hours on end calling the IRS representatives to check on our status, pouring all of her insight to best guide us. There are no words to describe how grateful we are to you, Vivian. Thank you for being the reason why we are still serving our community today and will the reason why we will continue to. Thank you for giving us the wings to fly and expand upon our vision for Heart of Dinner’s long term growth. Lucky to be surrounded by angels like you. 🙏
TLDR; WE’RE IRS OFFICIAL, Y’ALL!!! (Thanks for coining this term @overworkedasian 🤣🙌)
@vc_legal MADE THIS HAPPEN!! Thank you to those who watched our livestream announcement & celebrated with us. ICYMI watch the video in our previous post for ALL the details about this! If you have expertise in fundraising/grant writing & would love to join our BTS volunteer team in doing so, please fill out our volunteer application in our bio link. LET’S GO!!! 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
MAJOR NEWS TO SHARE WITH OUR HEART OF DINNER FAMILY!
Thank you so much Ciara Sidell the Urban Farm Manager over at Randall’s Island Park Alliance for so generously donating over 80 pounds of harvested Myoga ginger! The Randall’s Island Park Alliance’s Urban Farm is a 40,000 SF environmentally-sustainable garden and outdoor classroom at Randall’s Island Park. The mission of the Farm is to offer local children and families the chance to experience and learn from agriculture in an urban setting, as well as to teach essential life skills and support academic learning through hands-on classes exploring how choices about food affect their health, the environment and their communities.
Myoga ginger has a mild ginger overtone which with it’s tender and crunch texture makes it a refreshing treat to pickle or thinly slice on top of seafood! We were able to cook and pickle it, and also pass onto our restaurant partners and to the gong gong and po pos for them to enjoy at home, what a treat! 📷@randallsisland
Hi Heart of Dinner family! @avecjee gifted @mamask masks seen in the first two photos. They’re made with double layered, innovative textile solution combining 100% cotton for irritation-free wear and copper ion fiber for powerful antibacterial, antimicrobial, and deodorizing benefits. She donated 250 of these masks to our Heart of Dinner senior recipients.
In the third photo, you’ll see the boxes and boxes of KN95 masks from @msjojokwong @pearlrivermart @pearlrivermartfoods donated. She was one of the very first ones to donate KN95 masks to our senior recipients at the very start of our operations in April, to this date Joanne has gifted us over 5,000 KN95 top quality masks to keep our seniors safe.
Do you see the cute strawberry mask in the final photo? That was handmade by @havecakeeattoo, the same volunteer who illustrated the beautiful cherry and red flowers on the brown bags behind it. We’ve received hundreds and hundreds of handmade masks from different members in our community to pass on to our elderly, we’ve even received handmade masks from one of our senior recipients to pass on to fellow recipients!
We are touched by each of your efforts and thank you for joining us in our mission to end hunger and isolation for the ones who have sacrificed so much for the longest time. 🥺🙏❤️ (First & last photo by @danahn17, 2nd photo by @kneelb4zhad @cpc_nyc, 3rd pic by @msjojokwong) #lovingchinatown
A a part of the “Why I’m Voting” series by Cooking with Granny profiling BIPOC food people in NYC, we're thrilled to share the story of one of our favorite dishes that our Ah-ma and Po-po made for us growing up.
#Repost Cooking with Granny——
Grandma’s Càibònēng (Taiwanese Preserved Radish Omelette over Noodles)
Moonlynn Tsai: Coincidentally both Yin’s and my grandmothers made this dish for us. It’s a crunchy egg with pickled daikon and scallion over thin vermicelli noodles that's been tossed in a little bit of soy sauce and sesame oil. It’s a very simple dish. Growing up, it was the way our grandparents infused as much nutrients as possible when feeding us.
Yin Chang: Also jumping in here, Caroline, to add a little bit of history. My grandma used to pickle her own daikon when we lived in Flushing and then later in Long Island. (starts laughing, “I don't know if you heard Moonlynn, but she's so excited, she’s like ‘Me, too!!’”) I will never forget how my mom and dad used to buy those lychee jelly cups that came in the plastic containers with the red covers on top. And we’d finish all the jellies. When I was younger, I would open the cabinets, looking for things in the kitchen. And suddenly I see the jelly container isn’t empty anymore. It’s filled up now with pickled daikon! My grandma was pickling her radishes in those plastic containers because she's so against wastage, especially coming from a very poor upbringing where she would share one egg among five of her children. You know, I'm telling you, I actually got teary eyed when Moonlynn whipped up this dish because it really reminded me of my grandma. And really, it's more than just a dish; it's about the sacrifices both of our grandmothers made for their children.
- Moonlynn Tsai and Yin Chang, co-founders of Heart of Dinner which has provided 33,000 meals to our homebound grandmothers and grandfathers in Asian communities hit by COVID-19 and related racial attacks. 📸: Cindy Trinh for CWG’s “Why I’m Voting” series profiling BIPOC food people in NYC
Today is ELECTION DAY, the LAST day for you to exercise YOUR voice. Make. It. COUNT! You've still got hours left to vote if you haven't yet, YOU CAN DO THIS.
Read how the work we do at Heart of Dinner directly impacts and influences why it’s crucial to us that we voted. Thank you Cooking with Granny for including our voices in your “Why I’m Voting” series profiling BIPOC food folks. ❤️
#repost Cooking with Granny
"This election is particularly important for me to vote. Personally, being a queer woman, being Asian, we’re minorities, and it's basically giving us the chance to be represented by someone who sees us as human and not less-than.” - Moonlynn Tsai, NYC based restauranteur
“I would feel remiss and irresponsible if I did not speak up and include my voice. I’m learning now how the elderly in the Asian community is actually the second largest population of those experiencing poverty. And that is something that I did not know prior to Heart of Dinner. I've learned that by being in conversation with the social services organization staff on the near weekly basis, and seeing that who we vote for directly impacts those who are on the receiving end [of government and community aid]. And if we're not voting for the right party or the right people who want to support the working class, then people like our elderly recipients are the ones who directly suffer.
I've also learned that Asian Americans are the fastest growing demographic here (check out the @NYTimes article at link in bio). Normally, we are seen as apolitical. We're not usually, as a community, as involved. In my early 20s, late teens, I was not really aware about civics, about politics, and about just how much power we have as citizens here in the U.S. That is not what I was aware of growing up in a household with immigrant parents. So I want to be a part of that change. That's why it's so important for me to vote.”
- Yin Chang, co-founder along with Moonlynn of HEART OF DINNER which delivers free culturally appropriate meals to our homebound grandmothers and grandfathers in the Asian communities in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens (homebound because of fears of Covid-19 and the related attacks against Asian Americans). Photo by Cindy Trinh for CWG’s “Why I’m Voting” series centering BIPOC chefs and cooks in this critical election conversation.
WOAH🤯🤯🤯 We are incredibly lucky, grateful, and honored to share that the magnificent and brilliant writer Jennifer Chen chose to feature our relief efforts work in the November issue of the O, The Oprah Magazine out now! Our entire Heart of Dinner community has been contributing to provide comforting meals and letters of encouragement for the Asian-American immigrant elderly since April 1st — donors, those who’ve fundraised on our behalf, volunteers who helped write letters and illustrate on bags, volunteers who have been safely delivering the meals to our elderly recipients, the staff of our social services organizations partners who pickup and distribute our meals to the seniors under their care, and the most amazing restaurant partners who’ve been by our side to reach the many elderly recipients (whether they’ve been working with us for nearly 7 months straight or jumped in as a guest-restaurant partner)—- our deepest gratitude to these everyday heroes Saigon Social NYC Partybus Bakeshop Bessou Nowon NYC Golden Diner, Hannah C. Wong, Van Đa 886.
A million and one thank you’s to our brilliant lawyer, Vivian Chen, for giving us wings to fly and filed all the paperwork to turn us into an official 501(c)3 non-profit. For those asking to making company matches— firstly, THANK YOU🥺🙏. Second, please hang tight, we’re waiting on one last paperwork from the IRS to give us the greenlight that your future contributions are tax-exempt!!
We would not have made it beyond what was initially our goal of 3 months without any of you. Deeply appreciative to angels like Jennifer who take the time to research, interview, and write about our efforts and amplify our mission through such influential platforms. And please be sure to read Jennifer's deeply moving and powerful The New York Times piece about her own Ah-ma titled "What Pro Wrestling Taught Me and My Immigrant Grandmother". And if you enjoy receiving uplifting words of encouragement, her newsletter called "Joy Ride" is an absolute must for consistent bursts of delight! Head over to the following link to subscribe! jchenwriter.com #lovingchinatown
Meet Maiko Kyogoku and Chef Emily Yuen of Bessou. For nearly half a year, these two have cooked thousands of delicious Japanese-inspired meals for our seniors. For Bessou’s 4 year anniversary, they went over and beyond and generously fundraised for us by creating a special Heart of Dinner menu with proceeds going towards our organization to help provide more meals for our senior recipients. We are immensely grateful to Maiko, Emily, and the entire Bessou team and all of our restaurant partners for pushing through the pandemic together to collectively reach over 30,000 meals! If you’re looking for soul-filling Japanese comfort food, look no further, please visit BESSOU Wednesdays through Fridays for dinner starting at 5:00pm. And on Saturdays and Sundays, they open at 12:00pm! Thank you, Bessou, for scaling with us and playing an instrumental role in reaching our Po-Po’s and Gong-Gong’s🙏💕 #lovingchinatown
Everyone, meet Helen Nguyen chef-owner extraordinaire of Saigon Social NYC. Helen spent the past year building out Saigon Social and right as the restaurant was about to open, Covid was declared a pandemic. Helen immediately pivoted and turned her shop into a space that has been providing support for her neighbors and community through her comforting and delicious meals. Our friendship formed at the very beginning of the pandemic and we’ve gone through the thick and thin of one of the most unprecedented times together. Helen was the first person to jump in with her restaurant and join the Heart of Dinner family and even donated her first two Wednesday’s to our Nai Nai’s and Ye Ye’s (over 400 hot lunchboxes of dishes that made US salivate!!) AND welcomed us into her beautiful restaurant to operate Heart of Dinner as we were scrambling to find a more permanent location!
To date, Helen has cooked right around 6,000 flavorful, hearty, and nutritious senior-friendly meals for our Heart of Dinner recipients, many of those times she’d make those meals on her own or with the amazing Daniel Le l and throughout ALL Wednesdays, she would take the extra time to make sure that each and every dish had a whole lot of heart poured into each stage of food prep, and we are deeply grateful our Ah-ma’s and Ah-gong’s get to experience this quality of nourishment. Please check out Saigon Social NYC’s Instagram for their hours and special events! We’re so excited for Helen’s Vietnamese hot-pot rendition this coming Tuesday! Seriously, someone please tell us how we got so lucky to be surrounded by a restaurant family of the most generous, thoughtful, heart-driven, talented, and community-oriented humans!! Anytime we (Yin & Moonlynn) are facing challenges that come our way, we always give each other heart-to-heart reminders and real talk that we are so privileged and lucky to be surrounded by a community of humans (you all!) who share the same values and that kind of support gives us hope to keep moving one foot in front of the other. 🙏❤️ Grateful to you all, always. 📷 first photo by Dan Ahn
We’d love for you to meet Jacqueline Russo Eng of Partybus Bakeshop, our favorite baker from our neighborhood bakery! Nearly 7 months ago, Jacqueline jumped in as SOON as she heard we’d been pivoting quickly to try and provide for our community in whichever ways that we could. Shortly after Covid-19 was declared a pandemic, and through the crux of the pandemic, Partybus Bakeshop was one of the only local bakeries still open. Very early in April, Jacqueline helped us provide bread and desserts to pair with the meals we cooked for the Chinatown Clean Streets ambassadors. When we scaled to provide meals to reach more and more homebound seniors, Partybus Bakeshop was one of the very first to join our restaurant family, baking customized loaves milk toast and scallion buns (swipe to see them in photo #2) for all of our Po-Po’s and Gong-Gong’s. They’ve been donating cases of Grand Street CSA boxes to us and Jacqueline and her hubby, Jeff Eng, have even personally driven quite a distance to pickup and fill their own car with cases and cases of fresh tomatoes to donate to our senior recipients! They’ve been by our side, showing up without fail each and every time, even donating sandwiches and cookies for our jail support care packages we put together to nourish the peaceful protestors during BLM marches, AND even welcoming us into their space to operate while we were searching for a long-term location!
Deeply grateful to Jacqueline and her incredible team at Partybus Bakeshop for pushing through this storm together to nourish all of the elderly recipients with their big hearts and baked goods. Please visit them Wednesdays - Sundays anytime from 9am-5pm! Also, baking classes are now back—go to their website to learn more 🙏💕 #lovingchinatown
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