By Leslie Sarasin, President and CEO, Food Marketing Institute
Family Meals Table

The expression “put your money where your mouth is” first appeared in America in the 1930s or 1940s. The idea behind this idiom is that while it's easy to talk about doing something, it's much harder to actually take action. When it comes to improving society, we all have ideas on ways to do things better and many of us can be quite vocal about our suggestions. However, few of us actually take action or “put our money where our mouth is.”

I've had the extraordinary experience of seeing many organizations take significant actions to improve the way our population eats. This is especially true through their participation in National Family Meals Month™.  

We began with a simple concept – design a platform for food retailers and suppliers to support consumers in making family meals a reality and, in turn, help them reap the physical, social, and psychological benefits of doing so. What began as a campaign to shine a light on the importance of family meals during September in 2015 has grown exponentially over a period of four years into a verified societal movement with approximately 230 partners – food retailers, suppliers, collaborators, media and celebrities – participating.

Nielsen data impressively substantiates that mealtime behaviors are changing because of National Family Meals Month! Nine out of 10 consumers said they took action after seeing the campaign in September 2018. Top consumer behavior changes reported include:

  • Cooking more meals at home (43%).
  • Making healthier food choices (37%).
  • Eating together as a family more often (33%).
  • Purchasing more fruits and vegetables (32%).

These data provide extraordinary proof that “putting money where our meals should be” really works. It is the continued, tangible outreach efforts that build the message momentum that change awareness, attitudes and behaviors around family meals. To help underscore this notion, please take note of some steps two new partners are taking to elevate the family meals message.

  • This September, Nestle’s brands of Stouffer’s and Lean Cuisine are making National Family Meals Month the centerpiece of their sales and marketing efforts. The company is working with retailers on displays/features to motivate consumers to stock up on additional, easy family meal solutions with their branded products. This includes placement of window clings on freezer doors that remind consumers of the myriad benefits of family meals. Moreover, the brands are literally “putting money where the meal is” with full-page FSIs that offer valuable coupons and product rebates. In addition to paid advertising, the brands are supporting this effort on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. What a powerful commitment to getting one more family meal on the table – and what a smart way for these brands to serve as convenient and affordable meal solutions.
  • In October – after National Family Meals Month officially ends – the SeafoodSNP Toolkit Cover Nutrition Partnership (SNP) will celebrate National Seafood Month. However, for the first time, the organization is focusing the drive of National Seafood Month on the importance of family meals. To do so, SNP has developed a 30-page retailer toolkit that provides a broad array of resources that will help retailers promote the importance of eating seafood twice a week while underscoring how their products are such convenient and nutritious solutions for getting one additional family meal on the table each week. The investment in the development of such a kit is an extraordinary demonstration of the marketing power of family meals. Moreover, SNP’s commitment is exemplary because it shows how the family meal theme is no longer limited to the month of September. It has value to consumers and the industry all year long.

Quite clearly, “putting money where the family meal should be” works. As this September rolls around, what are you and your organization doing to advance the importance of family meals?

Join the Family Meals Movement