By David Fikes, Executive Director, FMI Foundation

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It is a truth affirmed from many angles and substantiated by popular maxims used across various disciplines. For trainers and exercise enthusiasts it is “no pain, no gain.” In the business world it is “no risk, no reward.” For mountain hikers it is “the steeper the climb, the better the view. “And for bikers it is “the tougher the uphill ride, the better the downhill glide.” The veritable reality underlying all these adages is simple: the path to an action’s benefits first takes you through a discomfort zone. As much as we might want good things to come to us easily and without the pain of disciplined work, the untarnished reality is quite different. Achieving an advantage requires pushing through some aches and pains to make progress. Perhaps there are so many varied reminders of this truth because it is such a difficult notion to accept.

For five months now, requirements in addressing COVID-19 have touched, affected, or changed most every aspect of our lives. Not the least of these is the fact it has reversed a significant food trend; it has driven us from being an eating culture, back to being a cooking culture. Before COVID-19 we wished we had time and energy for more family meals and suddenly the pandemic hit, and we found ourselves in circumstances where every meal was a family meal. During this worrisome time many have re-discovered latent cooking expertise and more than a few have developed newfound culinary skills, but also most are feeling a bit weary and are reporting varying degrees of family meal fatigue. Our meal preparation muscles are tired, tested and stretched. Still we know the nutritional and family functioning benefits are out there awaiting us. In other words, now, when we’re tired, we most need the encouraging words of an inspiring trainer urging us to push beyond the fatigue, work through the discomfort and get reenergized about family meals, if we wish to reap the solid benefits they hold for us in terms of health, happiness and well-being.

For this reason, during Family Meals Month in September, the FMI Foundation invites FMI members, partners and collaborators to join us in urging consumers to “Stay Strong with Family Meals!”  

Home Cooking in America 2020, a new FMI research piece funded by the FMI Foundation available July 29th, provides an abundance of resourceful information helping retailers better understand the home-meal challenges families are facing. But naming the problem is only the start, it also provides guidance on how the food industry can help Americans overcome their cooking fatigue with creativity, resourcefulness, innovation and grit. This study places the current cooking scenario within a larger context, enabling us to see where the changes have occurred, clarifies the challenges and names the shifts we think will have legs to last into the future.

We hope you will help us celebrate the Family Meals Movement this September and help us encourage everyone to stay strong with family meals. To deepen your involvement, please consider participating in these opportunities to learn more: