By David Fikes, Executive Director, FMI Foundation
I am a self-confessed Olympics junkie. Every four years (well five, this time around) I become immersed in all manner of sporting events and hastily channel-surf past any other program. My interest is partly patriotism, but mainly, I’m fueled by a fascination with the people possessing the focused drive to invest years of their lives training to compete on this global stage. This year – given the dramatic COVID-19 pandemic backdrop – I have found the post-competition athlete interviews even more emotionally charged than usual. And though the array of Olympic athletes being questioned represent different nations and sports, there is a common thought-thread in their responses. They all find some way of saying ‘I didn’t get here by myself.’
I’ve heard swimmers, divers, gymnasts, runners, volleyballers or badminton players, all being interviewed. The sport and the language didn’t matter. When it came time to talk about the discipline, passion, and singular dedication necessary to excel, they all spoke of the support, encouragement, and inspiration they received from their family. Sometimes it was a single family member, more often it was the entire family unit and on occasion it was a whole community, including a meaningful coach. In doing so, Olympic athletes offer us a consistent reminder of how profoundly vital family support is to the individual’s ability to persevere, overcome adversity and find success.
The pandemic has brought its share of adversity and disruption, but what the Olympic athletes reinforce is that family empowers us to stay healthy physically, emotionally, and mentally. The side benefit of America’s pandemic pivot of sharing more meals at home is the increased health and emotional support that has accompanied our sharing food at the table with our family – even if that had to be accomplished virtually. According to research fielded by FMI and sponsored by the FMI Foundation, of those having in-person family meals, 70% feel more connected!
Just as the pandemic provides an intriguing backdrop to this year’s Olympics, it also adds a different feel to this year’s celebration of National Family Meals Month™ in September. Our theme of Stay Strong with Family Meals acknowledges the strength we have gained and encourages everyone to continue enjoying the nutritional, economic and social benefits of family meals. To help your company share the joy of family meals, the FMI Foundation has toolkits and resources on our website, www.fmifamilymeals.com, for retailers, suppliers, and community collaborators to leverage and make their own. We also have an online toolkit providing step by step guidance for those wanting to get September declared as Family Meals Month in their state or local municipality.
While planning for September’s celebration, we encourage you to partner with other companies to amplify each other’s efforts. This year, the FMI Foundation will be partnering with the American Heart Association and Common Threads to help us spread the message about the strong mental and physiological advantages of family table time.
Please let us know how you’ll be celebrating National Family Meals Month this September so that we can include your company on our partners page. We also encourage you to reach out if you have any questions or need help or materials for your activation. You can email the FMI Foundation team at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Most of all, I hope you will celebrate family meals by enjoying many meals with your family this September and beyond. Who knows, you may be dining with a future Olympic champion.