FMI Foundation’s National Family Meals Month™ Spokesmitt, Mitty the Mitt, joins the Voice of Food Retail as a guest author to share favorite family meal memories and highlight the impact the food retail industry has made helping consumers have one more family meal each week. 

mg-caption: Family Meals Spokesmitt, Mitty, at the Annual Meat ConferenceNot many people, or kitchen utensils, match my zeal for family meals. Hands down, my favorite memories happen around the family table – whether it’s at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Some may say that I just really enjoy eating, but actually I love just hanging around the kitchen witnessing quality time that shared mealtimes provide for family and friends. Let’s just say that food and families fit like a hand in a mitt. 

For the past five years, I’ve had the pleasure of serving as the National Family Meals MonthTM Spokesmitt. And unless I get replaced by a potholder, I hope to continue speaking out on behalf of family meals. As a celebrity Spokesmitt, I’ve gotten to hang with some pretty impressive people, such as the Coca-Cola Bear, Chef Robert Irvine, Valerie Bertinelli, stellar dietitians, food retailers, and Members of Congress. Lucky for me, no situation is too hot to handle because all these folks are pretty hot stuff. But talking to these stars, foodies and politicos was pretty easy because - we all have something in common - the cumulative magic we find in shared mealtimes. We agree that family meals are critical opportunities for busy families to spend meaningful time together, catching up, sharing stories, and offering the support that loved ones can provide each other. It makes me feel a little toasty just thinking about it. 

As an oven mitt, I see a lot of food action, and I know the value of a family meal goes well beyond the occasion itself. More family meals together help develop balanced eating habits and trains folks early-on how to make healthier food choices. As I peer into the dishes I get my mitts around, I love seeing how grocery stores offer creative answers to the “what do you want to eat” question that their customers ask. 

Looking back over the last half-decade, here are a few of my personal favorite family meal memories:

  • Attending the Annual Meat Conference and meeting (meating?) all the lovely protein providers working across the food retail industry. 
  • Crashing the State Issues Retreat and chatting up the folks who advocate for Family Meals Month proclamations in their states. So far this year, I've seen eight states proclaim September to be Family Meals Month - wow! 
  • Getting a little stage time at the FMI Foundation fundraiser Stir It Up!  Who says celebrating family meals can't include a little friendly competition?
  • Kicking off National Family Meals Month with the committed FMI staff at our annual potluck celebration. We all enjoy sharing a work-family meal lunch together. 

So, happy five-year anniversary to me and National Family Meals Month. I think it’s safe to say that it’s time to take our relationship to a new level and proclaim that National Family Meals Month is graduating to the Family Meals Movement! Yep, my food industry friends, and I will be encouraging family meals year-round. In October, Seafood Nutrition Partnership will focus their National Seafood Month activities on family meals. American Frozen Food Institute will highlight the Original Family Meal Kit: Frozen during National Frozen Food Month in March. And we hope others will join the family meals action.   

I look forward to hearing about all your family meal activities this September. Cheers to one more family meal at home each week. 

In food and friendship, Mitty