By David Fikes, Executive Director, FMI Foundation, Communications
Where do you go when you want to learn about something? The term “Google it” may come quickly to mind, but as we’ve all discovered, information found on the internet may or may not be trustworthy and often requires its own deeper research. As purveyors of Family Meals Month, we wanted to ensure the data we publish about the benefits of family meals is based in fact, backed by science, and can be trusted.
For this reason, in conjunction with September’s National Family Meals MonthTM, the FMI Foundation released a new repository of research featuring thousands of studies, spanning the last 35 years, that showcase the many benefits of family meals. This expansive library of supporting evidence is the cornerstone of our campaign centered on promoting family meals as an established way to enhance physical health, mental health and social well-being. If we say it, we have the evidence to support it.
Additionally, this year, we are targeting national allied family-focused organizations to enlist support promoting family meals to complement the 1,500 food retailers, suppliers and collaborators that have joined in prior years. Family meals can help strengthen vulnerable families, build self-esteem among youth to help nurture their full potential and foster an environment to support physical and emotional well-being for youth and adults. By engaging national organizations with similar goal-oriented outcomes, the Foundation seeks to expand awareness for the far-reaching benefits of family meals. By collaborating with these organizations, we will enlist their help to educate families, no matter how they are defined, about the widespread benefits of family meals.
The Foundation also is soliciting support from USDA Extension agents nationwide to help spread the word. These professionals focus on evidence-based approaches to advance individual health and well-being. Located in all fifty states, these extension agents are compelling champions for the Family Meals Movement and the scientific support substantiating the benefits of family meals.
“Extension agents are essential messengers for disseminating evidence-based programs that improve health outcomes,” said Britanny Saunier, executive director of the Partnership for Food Safety Education, and a convenor of extension agents to promote safe food handling for good health and wellness. “We are delighted to work with the FMI Foundation to help spread the word about the power of family meals and how to prepare them safely.&rdquo
National research reveals the more consumers know about the benefits of family meals the more likely they are to enjoy them more often. That said, while 60% of adults surveyed indicate they are more likely to share family meals when they hear about the benefits, there is work to be done. According to the FMI Foundation’s July 2023 “Staying Strong with Family Meals” Barometer, about half of consumers surveyed (53%) know about the physical benefits. A similar number (55%) are familiar with the mental health benefits. Only 38% are aware of the social benefits associated with family meals. At the Foundation, we believe working with allied national organizations and USDA extension agents will help close the knowledge gap.
September is one of the best months of the year, with cooler weather on the horizon, and a good excuse to gather around the table and celebrate the important people in your life. Grab the Family Meals toolkit at the link below or spread the word using the #FamilyMealsMovement hashtag in a social media post today!