Heart of Dinner Founders Moonlynn Tsai and Yin Chang: “Loving Acts Can Change a Life—And Yours Too”

Moonlynn Tsai and Yin Chang just wanted to keep Asian elders safe. Near the beginning of the pandemic, during a surge of violent, racist attacks, they launched Heart of Dinner, an organization that brings hot, beautifully prepared meals to older members of the Asian community in New York City’s Chinatown. Their project, the couple says, was “born out of despair.” But by treating their neighbors with deep empathy and care, they nourished a sense of hope. 

At the Glamour Women of the Year Awards held on November 8, fashion designer Prabal Gurung passionately welcomed the Heart of Dinner founders. Citing the over 10,000 hate incidents against Asians in the U.S. reported by Stop AAPI Hate since the pandemic began, he said, “These wounds to our community are not new; they’ve always been there.” Asian-Americans, he noted, “are the fastest growing racial or ethnic group in the U.S. electorate, but somehow we’ve always been rendered insignificant or invisible.” He added, “That’s why I feel we can never be too bold or too loud in our fight for safety, inclusivity and acceptance.” For Tsai and Chang, he said, “their activism is powered by love.” 

Tsai and Chang accepted their award with an emotional speech. “The first time that I saw a video of an elderly man being attacked, the unmistakable agony on his face felt too painful to watch, it was unbearable,” said Chang. “I saw the face of my father, my Ah Ma—that’s my grandma—and all of our grandparents. But instead of turning away from the pain, we stepped into it, knowing that we had each other’s love as our safety net.”

Tsai went on, “In that love we birthed Heart of Dinner. It gave us hope to weather the most difficult terrain throughout the pandemic and enabled us to sustain. Our relationship expanded as we formed friendships with thousands who found their own safety net in our community.” Their work, she said, isn’t only about delivering food: “Our elderly recipients get to see how much love and inclusivity there is in this community, which helps the isolating and terrifying news about targeted attacks towards them.” 

“Together,” Chang elaborated, “we are able to shine light on the good in the world, as we see that people are innately drawn towards acts of love. These loving acts can change a life—and yours too. So don’t be afraid to challenge the pain, as that is where we often find a flicker of hope. When we are able to confront despair with unwavering conviction and integrity, we replace it with the beautiful and the good.” 

Tsai and Chang ended their Women of the Year speech by thanking their mothers for teaching them empathy. It feels safe to say that empathy is a lesson that both women truly internalized. They call Heart of Dinner’s product “empathy, wrapped up in a thoughtful care package.”

The Glamour Woman of the Year Awards ceremony was held in compliance with local health and safety guidelines. 

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