By: Susan Borra, RD, Chief Health and Wellness Officer for FMI and Executive Director of the FMI Foundation
Records set in Fundraising
2017 was a record-setting year for the FMI Foundation. In January, the Foundation launched a completely re-designed fundraising event that included a lively cooking competition designed to accentuate the FUN in Fundraising and celebrate the good grocers do to support family meals.
The new event, called Stir It Up!, was enjoyed by more than 450 retailers and suppliers at FMI’s Midwinter Executive Conference who took advantage of networking with colleagues and tasting all the delicious family meals. And most importantly, the FMI Foundation raised a record-setting $1,032,000 to support food safety, nutrition and health programming, including support of the National Family Meals Month™ campaign.
Records set for National Family Meals MonthTM
National Family Meals Month (NFMM) in September 2017 also set new records. Almost 200 companies and organizations have participated to date, including 78 retailers, 30 suppliers and 71 community collaborators.
In addition, two new reports provide additional rationale and examples to encourage organizations to get involved in the campaign:
- The Power of Family Meals white paper, which examines consumers’ desire for more family meals and the opportunity for retailers to help consumers achieve them; and
- Best Practices and Excellence in National Family Meals Month Programming Guide highlights participation of allies and gives ideas on ways to celebrate National Family Meals Month.
- The Foundation also developed new resources for this year’s campaign:
- New Industry-Facing website – The NFMM website was redesigned in 2017 to draw more attention to the assets available for NFMM, especially the Retailer and Manufacturer Toolkits and Best Practices Guide.
- New infographics – The NFMM stats were updated and given a new look for 2017.
- Infographics translated into Spanish – According to 2016 research from Nielsen, Hispanic shoppers are 30 percent more likely than average to say that eating more meals together as a family at home is important.
- Food Safety for Family Meals: Modifying Recipes to Include Food Safety Instructions – Developed in collaboration with the Partnership for Food Safety Education, the goal of this project is to improve consumer food safety practices and behaviors at home by including specific food safety instructions in recipes.
Records Set In Initiating Research
The Foundation initiated three research projects in 2017 to advance the nutrition, health and food safety needs of the customers served by the retail food industry.
- Consumer Understanding of Production Practices in Animal Agriculture: This is the pilot research study for the Unified Voice program, a project to proactively create an environment of trust in the food and consumer goods industries. The Foundation initiated and provided the seed money for a consumer behavior economic study to explore consumer understanding and attitudes on the topics of cage-free eggs and slow-growing broiler production. Additional funds for this research were raised from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and the Animal Agriculture Alliance. The grant was awarded to Dr. Jayson Lusk, a food and agricultural economist at Purdue University, and the research was fielded in the fall of 2017. The results will be available in early 2018, and the report will be submitted to a peer-review journal for publication.
- Reducing Allergen Labeling Recalls by Finding the Root Cause: Undeclared allergens are the leading cause of U.S. food recalls and the Foundation awarded a research grant to the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program (FARRP) at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, to identify the root causes of allergen labeling errors and provide guidance on how to mitigate undeclared allergen recalls. Dr. Stephen Taylor, Ph.D., the lead researcher on the project, presented his preliminary research findings for conference attendees at the SQF International Conference in Dallas, Texas, which emphasized greater record keeping standards on behalf of regulators, manufacturers, suppliers, wholesalers and retailers. By the completion of the project, FARRP will submit a best practices whitepaper to the FMI Foundation, and submit a paper for peer-reviewed publication.
- The Importance of Family Meals – A Meta Analysis: The Foundation is funding a meta-analysis research project to evaluate existing studies of family meals to identify thevarious nutrition, social, emotional and cognitive benefits of family meal time. Dr. Shannon Robson, MPH, RD, at the University of Delaware is the lead principal author of this research review that will be submitted for publication in early 2018.
Records Set in Attracting Students to the Foundation’s Scholarship Program
The Food Safety Auditing Scholarship and Education Travel Grant awards a $3,000 scholarship and an all-expense paid trip to the Safe Quality Food Institute International Conference to 10 university food and agriculture science students. This year, the Foundation received the most applicants ever—83 total, including 13 Undergraduates, 40 Masters students, and 30 Doctoral candidates from 36 different universities in North America.
The FMI Foundation thanks all who generously supported the work we do to bolster the safety of the food supply and assist consumers in matters of health and nutrition.