By: David Fikes, Executive Director, FMI Foundation
We will be measuring the magnitude of COVID-19’s impact on our lives for many years to come. Some of that is because we will need some distance to fully comprehend the breadth and depth of even the most obvious changes the pandemic wrought. Perhaps more importantly, we need to braced for a long-term scrutiny of the past few years because it will take a while to connect all the emotional dots and tease out the more subtle ways that this global emergency shifted the fabric of our feelings and affected our psyche, both publicly and privately.
The cloud of anxiety we’ve all been living with for the past 27 months has taken its toll on us individually and culturally. Tempers are shorter, reports of rage and violence have become so commonplace we’ve grown a bit callous to their gut-wrenching consequences, and public civility has become so rare we are almost shocked – and a bit dubious – when we do encounter it. The sum of this emotional barrage can become daunting, demoralizing, and downright depressing, but I do think there is a rainbow hidden amidst all these storm clouds.
Throughout the pandemic, people have repeatedly reported finding the family meal to be bright spot in their day. They have substantiated that the time at table together offers unheralded emotional, social, and nutritional benefits. It was that way when things were bleakest, and now that we are beginning to see new light on the horizon, we must continue capitalizing on this fount of positive resources. As we begin the slow and arduous road out of the pandemic’s fog, we must remind shoppers of the strength they found in the family meal and encourage them to draw upon its power to help us recover economically, emotionally, and psychologically.
It is to this end that I am pleased to announce that the FMI Foundation will be partnering with the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) for National Family Meals MonthTM in September. We’ve always known the physical, nutritional, and dietary health of the family meal, but when seeking a partner to help amplify the mental health aspect of the family meal, we were delighted to discover a like-minded collaborator in NAMI, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization. This year, the family meals campaign will become part of NAMI’s Hearts+Minds initiative. Additionally, together, the FMI Foundation and NAMI will be developing new resources and sharing information in the burgeoning area of nutritional psychology.
As your company considers the way it is going to celebrate family meals in September and how you plan to encourage your customers to ‘stay strong with family meals” bear in mind the focus we will have on mental health and the significant role family meals can play in bringing healing to our nation.
Given the emotional state of our nation, if we are not part of the solution then we are contributing to the problem. Supporting, encouraging, and facilitating family meals is a dynamic way to contribute positively to the emotional, mental, and moral health of America.
Family Meals Month Resources