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For health and happiness, share a family meal this October

Eat Better; Eat Together MonthOctober 1-31

What: Dinner has traditionally been the time for families to reconnect and strengthen their bonds after a day spent apart. But for many families, mealtimes are no longer shared. This October, promote the benefits of family mealtimes and share ways for families to make it a daily tradition during Eat Better; Eat Together Month.

Background: The monthlong event was established by the Nutrition Education Network at Washington State University after research found numerous benefits to shared family mealtimes, including better school performance for children and better family nutrition.

Story Pitch: When families share meals, both parents and children benefit. Schools can promote how shared meals, whether it’s breakfast or dinner, help children eat healthier and pay better attention in classes. Local schools, community centers, or places of worship can hold family schedule planning workshops to help parents make a shared mealtime work. Local cooking schools or grocery stores can host cooking classes that focus on how parents and children can prepare healthy meals together to save time and bond as a family.

Story Hook: Studies have found that families who eat together tend to eat better, consuming foods higher in vitamins and minerals and lower in fat. At the same time, healthy afterschool activities like sports can make scheduling a shared dinner difficult. How can busy families eat together despite tight schedules? How can families make their shared mealtime more valuable even if it’s short? Keep the following questions in mind as you make your pitch:

  • Do families need to be large to reap the benefits of eating together?
  • How can parents make mealtime enjoyable and positive when there is a picky eater or reluctant teenager in the family?
  • Food is at the heart of many cultures. How can families use daily meals to share cultural traditions and values?
  • What are age-appropriate recipes that allow children to help prepare meals?
  • Can sharing meals actually help families save money on groceries?
  • Do shared family meals help children with learning or attention disorders?

Tips: Provide contact information for a family that can talk about how daily shared mealtimes has made them healthier and happier. Be sure they can talk about how they overcome scheduling challenges and adapt as their children grow older and more independent.

Eat Better; Eat Together
(253) 445-4553

Meals Matter

KidsHealth from Nemours
Family Meals
http://kidshealth.org/parent/food/general/family_meals.htmlU.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Family Guide

–Researched, compiled & written by Kristina Elliott
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