By: Allison Febrey, Assistant, Health & Wellness/FMI Foundation/Food & Product Safety, Food Marketing Institute

WakefernFor National Family Meals Month™ (NFMM) 2018, Gold Plate Award-winner Wakefern Food Corp. encouraged family meals throughout their entire company. I reached out to Natalie Menza-Crowe, director of health and wellness at Wakefern Food Corp., to learn about their NFMM program.

Why did you decide to make this campaign bigger and better than anything you had done before?

Natalie Menza-Crowe (NMC): ShopRite has always been a big supporter of FMI Foundation’s National Family Meals Month™ campaign, and last year we decided that we wanted to expand our 2018 program to make it our most comprehensive and impactful ever. NFMM has always been a campaign spearheaded by ShopRite's Health and Wellness department, but last year we worked with our executive leadership to create a campaign that would leverage the synergies of our entire company --including procurement, advertising, philanthropy, corporate and retail communications, to name just a few divisions -- in order to communicate the importance and value of sharing more family meals together to our customers and associates.

What kind of feedback did you receive from staff?

NMC: At an executive level, our team was vested in the campaign from the very beginning, and that enthusiasm trickled down throughout our company and helped make our NFMM program come to life on so many levels. The messaging of NFMM is well aligned with the core values and overarching purpose of our company, which is to help people to eat well and be happy. I'm proud to say that last year's campaign really lived out our purpose, and having the full support and encouragement of our leadership team, our independent owners and operators, and our associates, really made a difference in how seamlessly we executed this Gold Plate Award-winning campaign.

How did you involve your entire company in family meals?

NMC: To be honest, it was easy to involve the whole company because the message of this campaign resonates with just about everyone. Our associates are also our customers, and everyone is always looking to discover ways to eat more meals at home, share more meals with their family, and find dinner solutions that are delicious and healthy. By engaging our associates in the many facets of this omni-channel campaign and helping them to find dinner solutions, resources and tools that would be useful in their own lives, they became our biggest supporters and brand ambassadors.

How did your campaign incorporate health and wellness?

NMC: All of the inspiration for our recipes and the in-store activations that took place with our dietitians are based on recipes that meet our criteria, which, as a rule, follows the recommendations of the nutritional criteria of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. During September, our dietitians held food samplings, cooking classes and community events dedicated to Family Meals Month which helped provide a constant source of inspiration and education to customers looking for better-for-you dinner solutions.

How will you promote family meals in the future?

NMC: Helping customers to enjoy more family meals at home is part of our ongoing corporate mission, and for 2019, we plan to reveal an even bigger and more all-encompassing campaign that continues to call out the importance and value of sharing meals together. Stay tuned, we'll be debuting our exciting new campaign this fall!

Congratulations to Wakefern on its Gold Plate Award-winning National Family Meals Month campaign!

Watch this sizzle reel summarizing all the great family meal solutions we saw this past September. Now is the perfect time to start planning for National Family Meals Month September 2019. There is no fee to participate!

Go to for ideas on how you and your company can join the movement. Learn more about some of the award-winning programs on our Gold Plate Awards page.