Join the Movement!

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Family meals are the foundation for a healthy nation.


They feed our minds, bodies and souls – and not just because our moms told us so.  We know this is true because we have decades of scientific studies that prove it.

Perhaps it may not come as a surprise to you that people who eat more family meals together eat more fruits and vegetables, and have better diets in general.  But did you know that family meals improve family connectedness, communication, expressiveness and problem solving too?

There has never been a more important time in our living history to keep ourselves and our loved ones physically and emotionally fit.  Family meals help with both. 

The FMI Foundation created this website to show you:

HOW people are benefiting from family meals

WHY to continue having them

No matter how you define your family, we hope the information on these pages helps you to Stay Strong with Family Meals.


What is the Family Meals Movement?

What began as a campaign to shine a light on the importance of family meals during one month in 2015 has grown exponentially ever since.  Hundreds of health professionals, community groups, retailers and manufacturers have embraced the concept and have started to promote family meals throughout the year.  Quite literally, there have been billions of media impressions in the past year alone.

More significantly, the stay-at-home realities of the global pandemic have created increased opportunities for family meals which has resulted in new-found awareness and appreciation for the myriad benefits.

Unquestionably, the month of September will continue to serve as an opportunity to accentuate the value of family meals. However, it is clear that support of family meals has evolved to be far more significant than a promotional sales period for retailers such as back-to-school or grilling seasons. Rather, it has become a social movement – The #FamilyMealsMovement.

What is National Family Meals Month?

Each September, our country celebrates National Family Meals Month™ -- a nationwide event designed to support families in enjoying more meals together using items purchased at the grocery store and, as a result, reap the many health and social benefits of doing so. 

The aim is simple: commit to staying strong with family meals.  This is as easy as pledging to have one more meal together, at home, per week. What is less simple, we know, is the practical aspect of making this happen. That’s where we come in.  You bring the desire and we bring the support. 

This educational program is designed for you and brought to you by the FMI Foundation, an organization whose mission is to support food retail through research and education on important topics including food safety, nutrition, and health, in partnership with our dedicated retailer, supplier, and community partners. 

Several years into the family meals movement, we have seen this support pay off for families like you! Those who have seen the campaign, not only like the concept, feel it’s informative, and appreciated the new ideas, but the vast majority have been able to take action and make family mealtime a reality!

September is the perfect month to join in the conversation that encourages and inspires people to enjoy wholesome meals together. Join the movement and to commit to one more meal at home per week this September for #FamilyMealsMonth!

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Why Do Family Meals Matter?

Researchers, health experts, popular media, and communities across America are joining the movement to commit to one more meal at home per week every September for #FamilyMealsMovement! Most compellingly, families like yours are joining in and seeing the benefits. In fact, more than 8 in 10 of those seeing the National Family Meals Month™ campaign say that it is important and, better yet, are taking action to making family meals happen!

The data on why family meals matter is positively overwhelming.

There literally are thousands of individual studies that examine the impact of family meals on nutrition and behavior.

Across the board, studies show again and again the significant, measurable scientific proof about the positive, lifelong benefits of family meals.  Family meals nourish the spirit, brain and health of all family members.  For example:

  • Regular family meals are linked to higher grades and self-esteem and delayed sexual activity. 
  • Children who grow up sharing family meals are more likely to exhibit prosocial behavior as adults, such as sharing, fairness and respect. 
  • With each additional family meal shared each week, adolescents are less likely to show symptoms of violence, depression and suicide, less likely to use or abuse drugs or run away, and less likely to engage in risky behavior or delinquent acts.
  • Adults and children who eat at home more regularly are less likely to suffer from obesity.
  • Increased family meals are associated with greater intake of fruits and vegetables.

In 2020, a study published in The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (JNEB) built on years of previous research.  It employed the most comprehensive approach to date to explore the direction and magnitude of exposure to family meals and dietary and family functioning outcomes in children.  It encompassed a systematic review as well as a meta-analysis of all relevant studies published in a peer reviewed journal in English prior to December 2018.  In short, it provides definitive proof of the value of family meals.

There are two notable findings to this study:

  1. Family meals improve fruit and vegetable consumption – overwhelmingly, studies showed a positive relationship between family meal frequency and fruit and vegetable intake when examined separately, but also when fruit and vegetable intake were combined.
  2. Family meals improve family functioning – nearly all the studies included in the systematic review and meta-analysis demonstrated a positive relationship between family meal frequency and measures of family functioning. Family functioning is defined as family connectedness, communication, expressiveness, and problem-solving.

Translation = 

  • Family meals have always been one of the best healthy habits.
  • Family meals keep us connected.
  • Family meals are the foundation for a healthy nation.

The Benefits of Family Meals is Real

A significant study on the relationship between certain family characteristics and adolescent problem behaviors, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that teens who have more frequent family dinners (more than three per week) are:


3.5 TIMES

less likely to have abused prescription drugs or to have used an

illegal drug other than marijuana or prescription drugs


3 TIMES

less likely to have used marijuana


2.5 TIMES

less likely to have used tobacco


1.5 TIMES

less likely to have used alcohol


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Staying Strong with Family Meals” Barometer

We may have always known, intuitively, that family meals are good for us. The numerous research studies referenced on this website provide the scientific proof that they are. Perhaps the most extraordinary proof in the pudding to the benefits of family meals became apparent when COVID-19 turned our worlds upside down.

The numerous research studies referenced on this website provide the scientific proof that family meals are good for us.  Perhaps the most extraordinary proof in the pudding to the benefits of family meals became apparent when COVID-19 turned our worlds upside down.

When we were six months into the crisis, we discovered that Americans were using family meals to stay strong – physically and emotionally – during the global pandemic.  Better yet, they planned to continue this positive practice when the world returns to a new normal.  

We know this because the FMI Foundation has been tracking it.  In fact, we developed a tool to track it – the “Staying Strong with Family Meals” Barometer.  This barometer is a recurring quantitative study with nationally representative sample of consumers.  This effort began in August 2020 and is being updated frequently with tracking data.

This barometer shows us how the global pandemic fundamentally has changed the family meals landscape.  For example, the latest data reveals that Americans are cooking more with their families and having more family meals.  Specifically:



87%

say they are cooking with their families the same amount or more than before the pandemic.



86%

report they are having the same amount or more in-person family meals.



75%

75% say they are having the same amount or more virtual family meals.

More significantly, this barometer provides data that shows us how people are benefiting from family meals and why we should all continue this healthy habit. For instance, nine out of 10 Americans express positive sentiments about the family meals experience. They boast that family meals:

  • Are a good way to spend time with people.
  • Make me feel more connected.
  • Are an important part of my household’s regular routine.
  • Are a high point of my day.

Beyond these positive vibes, Americans are experiencing tangible value. Of those having in-person family meals, 70% feel more connected. Of those cooking together, 70% feel more connected.

Check back here for updates on the “Staying Strong with Family Meals” Barometer.

 

Family Meal Frequency, Diet, and Family Functioning: A Systematic Review With Meta-analyses
Power of Family Meals 2017
The Monday Campaigns Shares Advice from A Top Nutritionist in Promotion of Family Meals
The Surprising Power of Family Meals
The Family-Building Benefits of Frequent Family Dinners
The Importance of Family Dinners VIII: A September 2012 CASA White Paper
Two Out Of Five Americans Are Dining Out Less Often—With Bigger Benefits than Saving Money
Fun family meal ideas
Recipes your family will love
Support from your favorite supermarket and products

Get Social


Show off your family meal with #FamilyMealsMovement! 


CHECK IT OUT

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Family meals are at a critical intersection in our nation

The will to return to the table exists, but families need a friendly, familiar voice to show them the way. That voice is food retail, and the way is the National Family Meals Movement.

Join us in making a difference during National Family Meals Month™ this September.