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Learning from DinnerSurfer

DinnerSurfer is a community where users can create and share food with others searching for homemade meals. The platform solves the problems of food waste and unhealthy take-away. What if we created a community where individuals across generations can use dinner time to bond over food and share skills or insights?

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How would you describe your idea in one sentence?

DinnerSurfer is a digital platform that connects community members cooking dinner with users looking for homemade food and facilitates social connections over dinner time.
This idea builds on Ashwin's idea to connect community members across generations during mealtimes, but expands the scope of the idea by suggesting the use of a digital platform that connects users every day of the week.

DinnerSurfer, a platform originally built to reduce food waste and improve urban nutrition, is well-positioned as a convening mechanism to connect youth and older adults over dinner. As a platform, DinnerSurfer can integrate other ideas such as Do something for the first time, and Teach or Skip (thanks Carola and Louis!) as activities to faciliate mentorship and skills sharing across generations during mealtimes. 

Payment is exchanged to cover the cost of ingredients, enabling both youth and older adults to work together to reduce the cost of nutritious and wholesome food. 

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to test any assumptions you might have about your idea?

To prototype this iteration of DinnerSurfer, I will host an intergenerational dinner and record insights and observations from the experience. Recipes and recommendations are welcome!

What aspects of your idea could benefit from the input, skills or know-how of our OpenIDEO community?

Community members: I'd love help with running lightweight experiments across cultures to see how meal sharing and DinnerSurfer impact community members around the globe. Please share your insights below!
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Team (4)

Eliza's profile
Guy's profile
Bettina's profile
Bettina Fliegel

Role added on team:

"Hey Bettina! Loving the adds you made and the thoughts you contributed towards building out this idea. I'd love if you joined me and helped me learn more about meal programs for seniors and explore your happy hour / early bird dinner suggestion further. Looking forward to collaborating!!"

Anna's profile


Join the conversation:

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Hi Guy. Nice idea!
One suggestion for using a digital platform might be to market it to social workers, and younger people, who can be agents for the older seniors who are not online. So "you" might be the one who is aware of the site and in turn helps a grandparent use it. For seniors who are already online they can find their own way.
One possibility to engage seniors who are on fixed incomes and/or might be isolated are Lunch Programs for seniors. These are run out of community centers or faith based organizations. Bring your idea there, advertise it, and the seniors who can use the internet will become aware and the others can sign up with the help of staff at the lunch program.
Is a Lunch Program a good place to survey seniors on their interest in the DinnerSurfer idea? Maybe a first "trade" can be to invite a senior to share with you one of their family recipes, which you can in turn prepare at home when you invite them for dinner.
Recipe --> Swap for a meal --> Build from there?

Another thought around meals and seniors -
A place to find a different group of seniors around mealtime is at local restaurant "Early Bird Specials." Marketing your dinner share idea somehow in relation to this might attract the attention of seniors - tagging the idea with language that references these "specials" for example. "Early Bird Specials" are a big topic of conversation poolside in retirement communities.
Umm - these "Specials" coincide time wise with "Happy Hours." I wonder if there is a way to get these two communities together in some way - the post grad/ first job - ages 21- 24 - at Happy Hour, and the retirees eating dinner out between 5 - 7pm. Might there be a few from each group in the same restaurant who would prefer once a month to sit together giving and receiving over a meal at home?
Great meals await! Looking forward to hearing about them.

Photo of Guy Viner

Hi Bettina! I think integrating or advertising dinner surfer through meal swipe programs is a brilliant idea, and am also loving your focus on connecting happy hour with early dinner for older adults. Interested in hearing your thoughts on how we can build these two out and test the key assumptions here through lightweight experiments. Welcome to our team!

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Hi Guy and Eliza. Thanks for including me on the team!

I have a few ideas to throw out. Nothing refined so please jump in!
Advertising and Linking Dinner Surfer with Lunch Programs for example -
How about offering Chanel Specific Listings on Dinner Surfer for Organizations/ Micro-Communities that sponsor Lunch Programs as a place to start?
Example - "First Street Church" has a Lunch Program on Mondays.
There are many Seniors that attend regularly. First Street Church has been contacted by Dinner Surfer. They feel their Seniors can benefit from this service. They choose to list themselves on their own "chanel." This means that when a congregant joins Dinner Surfer they can join the First Street Church Chanel alone, or the general site, or both. Seniors can be connected, with the help of volunteer staff, to other congregants from the church if that is something that interests them, and that they are more comfortable with. Youth that attend the church can do the same - or they can list themselves on the church's chanel, as well as on the wider site. Once the organization signs up for Dinner Surfer ask them to advertise the site on their weekly newsletter adjacent to their Lunch Program. (many faith based organizations list these services on calendars, in print and online.)
LIghtweight experiment? Is your current workplace a micro-community? Post on the community board - print or online - the dinner share idea with two sign up columns - Youth Host, +50 Guest - as a starting point. See what happens?
Another micro-community that comes to mind is a CSA. Everyone in a CSA is in essence already sharing. Know anyone in a CSA who can bring you along to a pick up location, where you can post a suggestion board for a Dinner Surfer experiment? It could even be a potluck - "share CSA together" - but with the two target groups joining together. Something like that?

Ideas around "happy hour and early bird specials?" - The idea of a communal table comes to mind. Thinking about it. Do you have any ideas?

Photo of Guy Viner

Hi Bettina- so glad to see your hard work around helping us ideate and push this idea forward. Please feel free to jump in, edit, add your insights, and include your experiment! Looking forward to seeing how the community leans in and contributes.

Photo of Guy Viner

Thrilled to have you on our team!!

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