September Is All About Family Meals Aug 23, 2016 By: Sue Borra, RD, Chief Health and Wellness Officer for FMI and Executive Director of the FMI Foundation In many ways, September has become the month where many families reset their routines after summer vacation time. Yes, it’s back to school season, which means busy schedules, but it’s also National Family Meals Month™, a way for retailers and suppliers to help families re-connect around breakfast, lunch or dinner. This retail food industry-wide movement, celebrated in September, raises awareness of the benefits of frequent family meals and encourages families of all shapes and sizes to share one more meal together each week. Family meals are at a critical intersection in our nation. Family meals eaten at home have been proven to benefit the health and wellness of children and adolescents, fight obesity, substance abuse and make families stronger—creating a positive impact on our communities and our nation as a whole. Families acknowledge the benefits, yet report difficulties in making family mealtime happen. In 2015, the Food Marketing Institute Foundation saw the opportunity to address a significant societal need, unite the food retail and manufacturer community around a synergistic cause, and highlight the critical role that grocers play in helping consumers prepare and enjoy meals each day. National Family Meals Month began with more than 60 retailers and 30 suppliers participating in the movement and the results were phenomenal. An evaluation by the Nielsen-Perishables Group found that 74% of consumers who saw information on National Family Meals Month reported taking some action, including making healthier choices or eating together more. Response to the inaugural National Family Meals Month has been so positive that additional retailers and suppliers continue to sign on to support the effort in September 2016. Participating in 2016 does not have to be resource-intensive. The Foundation offers turnkey toolkits that contain key messages; research and trends; graphics; ideas for activation; and social media and content. Additionally, National Family Meals Month aligns easily with existing health and wellness programs. We hope that all stakeholders in the retail food industry will take advantage of the opportunity to join the movement this year to help encourage one more meal at home each week. Your participation will demonstrate that your company and stores advocates for families every day by offering solutions that help busy families get wholesome meals on the table so they can reap the benefits of family mealtime. It is our privilege to support and highlight the successes of your company and of the industry as a whole and we look forward to working together to help consumers implement home meals as a family in 2016 and beyond! Visit www.FMIFamilyMeals.com to join the movement.