OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more


Creating connection through intergenerational dinner party video calls.

Photo of Katherine Rose
0 1

Written by

With the physical distancing needed to keep seniors, their families, and respite caregivers safe from spreading the COVID-19 virus, Youth Movement Against Alzheimer's (YMAA) decided to suspend its in-person respite caregiving program, YouthCare. Leadership quickly identified MealsTogether as an innovative solution that would continue to meet the needs of seniors and young adults during this time of isolation, while also continuing to build intergenerational relationships.  YMAA recruited over 10 new team members for this project and worked with a pro-bono branding company, Two Hands Brands, to develop this effort to its current stage within just 3.5 weeks. YMAA recognizes that launching as quickly as possible with a reliable and user-friendly structure is essential.  As such, the structure and technology needed to implement the program has already been developed and is currently in beta testing.  The goal is to launch an improved version in early May 2020, if not sooner, that has more features to ease the user experience for older adults.  YMAA’s staff and board have approached this adaptation with a positive and creative mindset, and an unwavering focus on our mission to create intergenerational relationships. It is anticipated MealsTogether will serve over 5,000 individuals in the next six months, and over 100,000 by the end of 2021.

While developed as a reactive solution in a time of crisis, YMAA already sees the potential of incorporating MealsTogether into its larger work.  The new program would increase both the breadth and depth of YMAA’s ability to develop relationships across a span of generations.  MealsTogether will keep YMAA chapter members engaged, for the duration of COVID-related school closures, by leveraging their help in participating and marketing for MealsTogether. Furthermore, this program would generate a large database of youth who are interested in intergenerational relationships that can be leveraged for future chapter creation and would build relationships with family caregivers that will prove valuable as we expand YouthCare in 2021 and ensuing years.

What is the need are you focusing on?

Social isolation and loneliness are associated with increased mortality in older adults. Social isolation also has been linked to other adverse health effects, including increases in dementia, depression, substance abuse, and suicide. Pandemic-related physical distancing is exacerbating these risks by the reduction or elimination of essential services that provided seniors with social connection. As research consistently shows that feeling connected and involved benefits both mental and physical health. YMAA created MealsTogether, a platform that strategically matches individuals with different generations based on their availability, language preference, and interests. By sharing a meal over a video call once or twice per week, YMAA aims to increase social interaction and encourage older adults to comfortably express their need for resources within their new found connection on a web-based platform.

What is the best example of business adaption you’ve seen in response to COVID-19?

One of our favorite adaptations during the pandemic has been that of General Motors (GM), which began producing ventilators at its plant in Kokomo, Indiana, in March 2020. In mid-April, GM declared it was ready to deliver its first batch and has plans to make more than 30,000 by the end of August. The company is also manufacturing FDA-cleared Level 1 surgical masks at its factory in Warren, Michigan with the goal of producing 50,000 masks per day, and could eventually double that capacity. While altering the production lines to produce ventilators and masks is not a company-wide pivot, GM’s shifts make a meaningful difference in meeting the need for critical PPE equipment. It also allows the company to continue generating revenue, which provides the opportunity for employees to keep working. Through its collaboration with partners and its skilled employees, GM has demonstrated leadership, innovation and creativity, as well as profound commitment to being a solution to this crisis.

What is your profession?

YMAA is a nonprofit creating a culture where youth alleviate the impact of Alzheimer's on families through respite caregiving and advocacy efforts.

Where are you located (country)?

United States

Where are you located (region)?

  • North America

Which industry do you work in?

  • Non-Profit/Philanthropy

Are you aware of any open source efforts, hackathons or other collaborative efforts related to your submission? Are you participating in these efforts?

MealsTogether was submitted to COVID 1.0 Global Hackathon:


Join the conversation: