By: David Fikes, Executive Director, FMI Foundation
Some good news stories are rags-to-riches tales—Cinderella stories that satisfy our yearning for justice that the true-hearted underdog will eventually prevail, even if magical intervention is required. Other good news stories are less dependent upon supernatural, and these happy narratives tell of a good idea getting planted, taking hold, getting nurtured in expected and unexpected ways and continuing to grow into a substantial movement. The good news of the Family Meals Movement is one such tale.
National Family Meals Month™ (NFMM) had humble beginnings when it started back in 2015. Our first few years, Harris Poll reported that we were reaching about one-tenth of the U.S. population with our messaging. Then in 2018, thanks to more of the industry getting involved, we made a substantial leap, and our reach expanded from 10% of the population to 25% of Americans reporting having seen or heard about the NFMM campaign. The number of partners and stakeholders continues to grow and the creativity with which they have embraced and shared the good news of family meals is yielding incredible results. I am pleased to share that we’ve made another leap, and in 2020, 33% of the nation said they had a firsthand encounter with National Family Meals Month. So, in six years our reach has expanded three-fold.
That is very encouraging news, but the more impressive part of this good news story is that of the 33% who heard our message, 93% said it impacted their shopping and consumption habits. Those who heard our voice took action and reaped the benefits of dining together; meaning they ate healthier meals—usually attributable to more fruits and vegetables being consumed—AND they built stronger family connections.
But there is an even more encouraging subplot to this good news story. If you look exclusively at American households with children, our stats are even more impressive. 57% of homes with kids said they saw or heard about NFFM and of that group, a whopping 97% said it made a difference in how they shopped and ate. Imagine that, almost six out of 10 American households with kids were encouraged to stay strong with family meals and almost all of them took the message to heart.
There is no shortage of disturbing news today and even with the good news of NFFM there are some challenges. As the COVID-19 pandemic wears on with no clear end in sight, family meal fatigue is a very real issue, but we need to understand exactly what that fatigue is about. According to an August 2020 Southpaw Insights survey, 71% of Americans report eating more in-person meals and agreed with the statement, “I feel more connected to my family since the pandemic started.” The preponderance of Americans (78%) report having positive feelings about family meals, saying things such as, “they are a high point of my day” or “they help to make me feel calm.” The fatigue is not about the family time together, but is focused on the time and energy it takes to plan and prepare the food. Without a doubt the pandemic has added some intensity to the question, “What’s for dinner tonight?” But the pandemic circumstances have not just heightened that question, it has compounded it with what’s for breakfast, what’s for lunch, and what’s for snack-time?
If you are looking for a place where your company can offer substantial and meaningful help to your customer base, search no further than in providing them with solid, simple and easy-to execute answers to those unrelenting questions. As our 2020 NFFM stats indicate, people responded to our words of encouragement. Family meals remains something they sincerely want to have. The more the food industry can do to provide ideas, resources and provisions that simplify home meal preparation and make it easier for home meals to happen, the stronger our customers will be, the stronger our communities will be and the stronger our nation will be.
Be part of the family meals movement, go to www.FMIFamilyMeals.com to learn more.