Friday, April 5, 2024

Feel Good Friday - Heart of Dinner

We’re heading to New York to celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month with an organization that provides meals to Asian elders, Heart of Dinner.

Founded in 2020 at the onset of COVID-19, and headquartered in New York City, “Heart of Dinner's mission works to directly address food insecurity and isolation experienced by Asian American seniors—two long-standing community issues.”

This Fortune Magazine video with founders Moonlynn Tsai and Yin Chang gives a great overview of the problem and the program. Asian Americans are the fastest growing older adult population in the U.S. but because there is a false belief that they don’t experience poverty and health disparities, there are less culturally and linguistically relevant services available to them. This leaves low-income and homebound seniors living in socioeconomic, cultural, and linguistic isolation

Enter Heart of Dinner. They work with local independent restaurant partners to source culturally thoughtful ingredients and meals. Every Wednesday, volunteers (called “Big Hearts”) pack that food into bags that have been illustrated by other volunteers. They also include a handwritten love note in the native language of the recipient. The bags are then delivered to the elders, providing them with nourishment of their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

While the operation started in the founders’ apartment, it has since expanded to four locations across Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. The Big Hearts are an intergenerational community of volunteers numbering in the thousands. Heart of Dinner serves over 650 elders every week for a total of more than 185,800 meals and notes delivered since they began.

If you’d like to help Heart of Dinner spread empathy and compassion along with the food, there are many ways to get involved. You can volunteer to deliver meals, illustrate bags or write notes. You can also shop for merch, make a donation and amplify their work on social media. Follow Heart of Dinner on Facebook and Instagram. 

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