CHINA Podcast: Story in the Story (9/13/2019 Fri.)


Podcast: Story in the Story (9/13/2019 Fri.)

People's Daily app

00:52, September 13, 2019



From the People's Daily app.

And this is Story in the Story.

No matter one's age, everybody deserves a good meal — and one Chinese city is making sure of it, with services designed to get inexpensive, nutritious food to the people who need it.

North China's Tianjin recently announced it would open canteens for senior citizens.

The canteens are expected to cover seniors at six downtown districts and will be granted a government subsidy of 2 yuan per person having food there.

Tianjin is not the only place in China doing this. Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province, also caters to senior citizens who need help with meals. There are more than 900 "canteens for the elderly" in Guangzhou alone.

Today’s Story in the Story looks at how these canteens are especially helpful to seniors who are widowed, disabled or live alone.


The senior citizen canteen in the Guan'gang No 1 Community of Binhai New Area in Tianjin. (Photo: China Daily)

Liu Zongyan, 88, walks to have lunch with his fellow senior citizens in a nearby canteen a few minutes from his home in Guangzhou, where they are served lunch by volunteers.

"My son and daughter-in-law are both doctors and are always busy. They worry that I may forget to switch off the gas when cooking," Liu said. "They are relieved because the canteen serves healthy food and the volunteers are friendly."

Guangzhou, with 1.61 million registered elderly residents, epitomizes China's aging society. China has 241 million people aged 60 or over, accounting for 17.3 percent of the total population, according to the Office of the National Working Commission on Aging.

According to a survey of 1,020 senior citizens in Guangzhou, difficulty with lunch is their biggest problem.

"The meals are specially made for the elderly. Our main cooking methods are steaming and stewing, and we use little oil and salt, making the food healthier and easier to chew," said Zou Yuehong, who is in charge of the canteen.

The canteens are especially helpful to seniors who are widowed, disabled or live alone, according to Wang Fujun, director of the city's social organization administration.

The canteens not only fill empty stomachs but also empty hearts. Various activities are held at the canteens to provide seniors with opportunities to communicate and form friendships.

"I feel lonely at home," said Liu, who has been widowed for over 10 years. "But at the canteen, I have friends."

"For each meal, the government gives me 3 yuan in subsidies," said Zeng, a woman in her 60s, at a canteen in the Liurong Pension Service Center in Guangzhou.

"Some people don't eat fish, some don't eat eggs," Zeng said. "They plan the meals specially for us."


Fang Yongchang, left, Party chief of the Guan'gang No 1 Community, Binhai New Area, Tianjin, gives free lunch to an elderly member of the community. In the community, some 70 elderly and disabled persons enjoy free lunch delivery and service, and around 30 come to the canteen every day. (Photo: China Daily)

In Tianjin, canteen services aren't the only affordable meal program to debut this year. The first free food and delivery service was offered at the Guan'gang No 1 Community in Binhai New Area starting in March.

Fang Yongchang, Party chief of the community, said around 70 elderly and disabled persons enjoy free lunch delivery, and around 30 come to the canteen every day for lunch.

"I'm worried about high temperatures," he said, "so I told the more elderly of them to stay at home and wait for delivery. Sometimes, I also organize a birthday party for them at the canteen for free," he added.

After the government announced the plan in July, some communities have begun their delivery services.

Hedong district, which has taken the lead in the major downtown area to implement the government's plan, pinpoints local nursing homes to help make and deliver the food for senior citizens.

Zhao Yang, 74, a retired engineer living in the Junlu Community in Hedong District, was the first person at the community to join the canteen delivery service.

He said he ordered lunch service for his wife and himself, was charged 31 yuan per day including delivery fees.

"I moved from Beijing but was not satisfied with the shortage of nearby restaurants, because I lived near Beijing's second ring road before, which had many options around," Zhao said. "The new services have relieved my frustrations with food making. I hope I can order more if possible."

According to the Tianjin city government, locals above 60 years of age can apply for canteen services.

(Produced by Nancy Yan Xu, Brian Lowe, Lance Crayon and Paris Yelu Xu. Music by: Text from China Daily, Xinhua, and

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