In April 2022, Chu Chaoyu, Deputy Secretary-General of Amity Foundation visited Yangjiang Town in Nanjing City to investigate and discuss local village assistance with representatives from the local government and other social organizations.
Yangjiang Town is the town with the largest number of elderly people in financial difficulties in the Gaochun District of Nanjing. As such, the town was chosen to host a pilot project under the “Papa and Mama Canteen”program to provide lunch support for the elder locals who live alone, especially the “left-behind elderly” in financial difficulties in rural areas. The project not only aimed to solve the problem of meals for the elderly in distress, but also to relief the pressure of their families.
Following a month-long evaluation, two rural meal stations were opened in Yangjiang Town in September 2022. Through these stations, diversified social work services, volunteer services and holiday activities, are provided to the elderly in rural areas to improve their quality of life.
Chen Changwen, or “Grandpa Chen”, who lives alone in Yangjiang Town, is 79 years old this year. His leg problems cause many mobility difficulties for him. “A few years ago, I was able to grow some vegetables to be self-sufficient, but now I can no longer work in the fields, let alone stand and cook for a long time.” said Grandpa Chen. When asked about his usual meals, he said helplessly: “I only have two simple meals per day, I don’t have the energy to manage any more than that.”
After the Canteen opened in Lundian Village, volunteers were able to deliver meals to Grandpa Chen’s door, allowing him to enjoy an extra bit of warmth in his daily life.
The increase in the number of elderly people in rural areas has led to an increasing demand for diversified rural elderly care services at the local level. Yangjiang Town will pave the way for “Papa and Mama Canteens” to expand to other rural areas. Through these canteens, the Amity Foundation hopes to encourage more volunteers from local communities to help improve the lives of their elderly neighbours, thereby creating a healthier, friendlier, and more equal society.
The “Papa and Mama Canteen” is a program jointly launched by Amity Foundation and Alibaba Foundation. The program provides nutritious meals to the elderly who live with disabilities and/or are living alone. Since its conception in 2014, the project has established service centers in nearly 20 provinces, expanding to more rural and remote areas.