By: David Fikes, Executive Director, FMI Foundation
The family meal has always faced its challenges. Traditionally, those challenges have been mainly in the realm of juggling schedules and mustering the energy at the end of a busy day to pull off a cohesive and nutritious gathering around the family dinner table. We’ve intuitively known the value of the family meal, and until recently, our challenges have been linked with some guilt that we weren’t able to pull them off as frequently as we wanted.
Now, enter COVID-19 with its pandemic control measures of lockdowns, restricted social interactions and enforced homebound confinements. Suddenly we see a whole new realm of challenges to the family meal. For many, that challenge is a matter of magnitude. We have moved from having maybe five or six meals together a week to abruptly having 21 meals a week together—plus snacks. All of this home cooking is testing our resources in food procurement, menu construction, and cooking expertise. We’ve moved from having a vague notion about what all the members of our family ate to now knowing EXACTLY what and how much each family member consumes.
For others, however, the COVID -19 experience has tested family limits in the other extreme—because rather than obliging them to be together, it is coercing separation. Quarantines, work requirements and medically induced isolation have challenged some families to find new ways of safely staying connected. Many have found their new work proficiency in conducting virtual meetings to pay off in some surprising ways with some families taking full tech-advantage of holding online meal get-togethers.
From the extreme of full-on family togetherness to the other end of the spectrum, which is the pain of isolation, family meals are confronting some new tests and trials, providing us all some new learning opportunities.
To this end we have a pulled together some COVID-19 Family Meal resources and on the Family Meals Website at www.FamilyMealsMovement.org. Drawing on a wide variety of sources, our tip compilation runs the gamut of family meal ideas including:
- Creative hacks of making the most of what you have.
- Food safety instruction.
- Guidance on how to shop, stock and plan smarter.
- Critical information on nutrition assistance programs.
Regardless of what kind of meal challenges you and your family are facing or the particular variety your customers are confronting during this unprecedented time, there is a helpful piece of advice awaiting on the Family Meal’s COVID-19 tips page.
Check it out and learn how to surmount the new challenges to family meals that COVID-19 is throwing our way.