RESPECT YOUR ELDERS
Senior citizens are often forgotten, including the meals they’re fed during times of need & comfort. Food is a necessity. It’s also one of the ultimate joys in life. We believe everyone deserves both—no matter your age. No one wants to eat meals they’re not accustomed to. RESPECT YOUR ELDERS provides meals to seniors they actually love—food from their own cultural background. And in doing so, multicultural mom & pop restaurants are simultaneously supported.
What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?
Immigrant and Refugee Support
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
San Gabriel Valley
County of Los Angeles
City of Los Angeles
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?
Expand existing project, program, or initiative
What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?
1 in 3 Angelenos faced food insecurity during the first year of the pandemic. Two years later, nearly a million Los Angeles residents are still facing challenges to food security, with continued effects from the last few years compounding most notably for BIPOC, immigrant, and refugee older adults experiencing increased social isolation, loneliness, and displacement from rent-controlled buildings and routines in communities where they have lived for years. But many city or statewide programs do not capture the real need of many seniors who need assistance to survive. Because of the cultural stigma against seeking help, we know that the needs and data for older adults in communities of color is very much underreported and historically overlooked by LA County institutions and services. Winnie Yu of Self-Help for the Elderly says, “My fear is that many more seniors are suffering in silence. They think they can manage on their own and will do as much as they can rather than seek help.”
Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.
RESPECT YOUR ELDERS grew out of MAMA’s DRIVE-BY KITCHEN—a reimagined model of restaurant delivery where you can pre-order and pick up LA’s favorite local ethnic dishes in neighborhoods across Los Angeles to support MAMA’s mission to preserve immigrant culture through food while telling the stories of the people and heritage behind the restaurants. This was paired with a meal-match program where for every meal sold, a second meal was bought using sponsorship funds to feed senior citizens in immigrant communities from Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Thai Town, Koreatown, Glendale and Little Saigon—and doubling the restaurant’s revenue at the same time. To date, DBK has sold over $100,000 in meals for local restaurants and raised over $25,000 to provide meals to BIPOC elders in immigrant communities. In 2022, RYE evolved from this grassroots work into a nonprofit organization to expand on the impact and insight of feeding seniors meals that mean something to them. For immigrant communities, food has always been what closed the gaps to make the distance between homes feel more familiar. Culturally specific meals offer a portal to the comfort of being cared for in ways that honor the experiences of our elders. That’s why RYE works with local restaurants to provide meals to seniors that they actually love. Through our work, we can show seniors they are not forgotten while supporting BIPOC and immigrant-owned restaurants that preserve the diversity and culture across Los Angeles.
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
LA2050 grant funds will be used to increase the scale of our work to provide meals to over 4,000 seniors in immigrant communities over the course of the grant period. This grant will also generate immediate revenue of $60,000 for BIPOC-owned mom and pop restaurants. With the ability to offer more consistent meal donations to gather more data across the diverse communities we serve, the sooner we can efficiently scale our efforts for greater impact across Los Angeles. In addition, RYE’s mission is to increase awareness around the issue of food insecurity for older adults in immigrant and BIPOC communities. We use our platform and strategic partnerships to shift the narrative around food as a catalyst for change and create a sense of belonging for seniors across Los Angeles looking for a reminder. In the end we are looking to create empathy across LA’s diverse backgrounds through food and cultural heritage, inspiring more people to connect and give back to their community.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
While we have goals to build on this foundation, we know that the program we have designed works based on feedback from the communities we have already served through the successful meal match program that started it. One of our restaurant partners, Bé Ù Kitchen in Virgil Village, shared the following after a meal donation to Vietnamese seniors in Little Saigon: “Out of all of the events and large orders we’ve done at Bé Ù, this one was the most personally significant for me and I’m so so happy we were able to participate. Thank you so much for including us.” As we look to expand our work, some quantitative measurements of impact we will look at include: seniors fed, restaurant revenue generated, communities served, and partnerships established over the grant period. RYE will also seek qualitative measurements through first-person interviews of seniors receiving meals, as well as pre/post assessments of community partners and restaurants to continuously improve our outcomes.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
Direct Impact: 4,000
Indirect Impact: 10,000,000