By Tom Cosgrove, Senior Manager, Program and Development, FMI Foundation/Health and Wellness, FMI
Family meals Better Nutrition

As a single guy in my thirties, I fall squarely into the single shopper category, which according to FMI data constitutes some 27% of the grocery shopping population. As such, all the cooking responsibilities in my household fall squarely on my shoulders, and I will readily confess that the current stay-at-home order has definitely tested the limits of my kitchen skills. In the same breath, I will also say it has provided the necessary motivations to try some new things. With meals at home being something of a “forced march,” I quickly exhausted my go-to list of reliable dishes I typically make and am now looking for new ideas and ways to expand my cooking and menu repertoire. Both the desire for something new and in some cases the craving for some good old comfort food that I usually did not cook for myself, sent me on a hunt for menu help.

The food industry recognizes that “family meal fatigue” is a real thing for everyone and that customers in all categories are in the same boat in which I find myself. We need help, solutions and new ideas to address the menu challenges of this period of home sheltering. And we need some encouragement to mix it up a little bit.

A few months ago, the FMI Foundation challenged a number of food influencers and partners to share some of their best suggestions and advice they would offer people striving to manage various food challenges being presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. These resources are available on the  Family Meals Movement Consumer-Facing site; creating an easily assessable resource library for consumers and industry stakeholders seeking family meal ideas, help and motivation. This diverse collection of helpful guidance covers a gamut of topics, including:

  • Recipes.
  • Food Safety.
  • Shopping, Stocking, and Planning.
  • Family Meals.
  • Creative Hacks.
  • Self-Care.
  • Nutrition assistance programs.

I have personally found this to be a helpful resource and return to it frequently because it is a dynamic, ever-growing catalogue of great ideas. If you have resources to contribute, we will gladly add them to the list of helpful guidance on the site and, of course, acknowledge you or your company as the contributor.

Beyond this resource guide, the food industry continues to look for ways to help the customers we serve. During the stay at home order, we have begun refocusing National Family Meals Month. Each September since 2015, the food retail industry has encouraged its customers to enjoy one additional meal at home each week. Now that the challenge of family meals has shifted from how to schedule them to how to manage the magnitude of them, we are thinking creatively as to how to best help families continue enjoying the amazing benefits of having meals together.

New FMI Foundation-sponsored research, found in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, shows that meals together support a family’s emotional well-being AND enhances its physical health, through encouraging more fruit and vegetable consumption. With this in mind, this year’s National Family Meals Month campaign will focus on helping families enjoy more healthful meals together at home.

FMI is taking it one step further, having appointed well-known retail dietitian Krystal Register to lead FMI’s Health and Well-being initiatives. Her solid background in food retail and her impeccable reputation in the dietitian arena will provide an additional healthy flair to the Family Meals Movement all year long.

You can join the Family Meals Movement! The FMI Foundation has a multitude of resources that have been created over the years to help promote families enjoying mealtime together. We hope you join us in helping families enjoy, not just consume, their meals together in September!

Family Meals Movement Resources