Cooking Classes Support Family Meals Nov 28, 2017 By: Tom Cosgrove, Manager, Program and Development, FMI Foundation “I wish we had more Laura’s,” said Linda Novick O’Keefe, CEO of Common Threads, referring to Laura Karet. Laura Karet is President and CEO of Giant Eagle, a regional food, fuel and pharmacy retailer headquartered in Pittsburgh with stores throughout the Midwestern and Mid-Atlantic states. Common Threads is a nonprofit dedicated to improving the health of America’s children through cooking and nutrition education. Common Threads offers cooking classes for children and families along with educator training in nine cities - soon to expand to 14. Earlier this year, when the nonprofit opened up shop in Pittsburgh, Karet was instrumental in its success. The grassroots partnership with food retailers is the reason why Common Threads is such an active partner in the FMI Foundation’s National Family Meals Month campaign to encourage families to eat one more meal together every week. Novick O’Keefe said, “A partner like FMI Foundation really helps us elevate the conversation around the importance of eating together as a family and how the dinner table anchors all of us.” Common Threads has a portfolio of evidence-based programs for schools and community-based organizations targeting children and families. Evaluations have shown that those who participate in Common Threads programs have increased vegetable consumption, nutrition knowledge, confidence in their cooking skills and more. Common Threads also offers family cooking classes where parents and children together learn how to make healthy meals at home on a budget, which compliments the National Family Meals Month mission of bringing families back to the dinner table. For 2017, Common Threads took their program to the next level by re-packaging their existing content on their website around celebrating the importance of family meals. The tried and true cooking classes, handbook and nutrition education Common Threads is known for was given new life around the #FamilyMealsMonth discussion. At the heart of Common Threads’ mission, Novick O’Keefe said, is the food retailer. “It goes to our philosophy that it’s going to take a village to move the needle with regard to childhood obesity,” she said. “Food retailers play a really important role and have for a very long time. The grocery store is where people go, where they convene.” “The family meal is our mantra, the fabric of who we are.” You can get more information; downloadable for free at www.commonthreads.org and now is the time to start planning for National Family Meals Month 2018! The FMI Foundation published a Best Practices Guide with ideas to get you started and we look forward to the continued success and support of National Family Meals Month in the future!