By: Mimi Chacin
September 16, 2020
September is National Family Meals Month™, an initiative launched by FMI Foundation in 2015 to raise awareness of the lifelong benefits gained when families share meals together. What started as a grassroots initiative five years ago has grown to become a cherished national movements.
FMI Foundation is an organization whose mission is to support food retail through research and education on important topics including food safety, nutrition, and health, in partnership with dedicated retailer, supplier, and community partners. The organization's Family Meals Month charges families across the country to “stay strong with family meals” starting with a simple first step: encouraging families to eat one more meal together each week.
It’s not surprising that breaking bread with our families frequently nourishes not only our bellies, but also lifts spirits and warms souls. The Family Meals Movement is making it easy for families across the country to experience these benefits and has seen a dramatic increase in participation, according to David Fikes, executive director at FMI Foundation.
"The first few years of the Family Meals Month campaign, we reached around 10% of the U.S. population with our message of 'have one more family meal this week'. Last year, we reached a quarter of the U.S. population with our appeal for people to have more family meals,” shared David Fikes, executive director at FMI Foundation.
When asked what outcome of the movement he is most proud of, Fikes pointed to statistics that showed a high level of participation in the movement. Of those who had learned about Family Meals Month during the 2019 campaign, 36 percent reported eating together more often as a family and 41 percent said they made healthier food choices.
"Consumers didn’t just hear the words, they took action and that meant more family meals in America," Fikes said. "Whether you look at that reality from an individual, a family or a national perspective, that is good news for our physical well-being and our emotional and mental well-being.”
The benefits are backed up by scientific evidence as are the equally important risks not coming together at the dinner table can have.
Common Threads is proud to join the Family Meal Month movement once again, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, when families have everything to gain from sharing a meal together as well as finding family friendly activities, like cooking together, at home. The New York Times reports on the results of a survey of Americans about how the pandemic has changed their cooking habits. According to the article, “54 percent of respondents said they cook more than before the pandemic, 75 percent said they have become more confident in the kitchen and 51 percent said they will continue to cook more after the crisis ends.”
Common Threads' leadership has observed this data as well, seeing this increase in cooking at home as a "silver lining."
“Common Threads' nutrition education and cooking skills programs are rooted in the vision that together we can reverse the trend of generations of non-cookers and we are elated to contribute to this life elevating movement," said Linda Novick O'Keefe, co-founder and CEO of Common Threads.
You can join the movement too! Round up your family to cook up a family meal at home and snap a selfie raising your mitt, showing your commitment to sharing one more meal per week at home. Share it on social media using hashtag #familymealsmonth.
At Common Threads, we’re joining the movement all month long. Four of our team members shared their cooking chops and favorite Common Threads recipes with their families and you each week in September! Watch them in action in the videos below! Aligned with our commitment to provide healthy and pocket friendly recipes, they each cooked up nutritious recipes for a family of four averaging $10-$15 using wholesome, accessible ingredients that celebrate cultures all around the world.
Common Threads program manager, Linda Flores, lives in El Paso and seared up sizzling Chicken Fajitas in her kitchen with her daughter Camila while Vicky AuYeung, one of our skilled chef instructors based in New York, made fan favorite Fried Rice, brimming with colorful veggies, whole grains and heart-healthy lean chicken.
“Shawarma is a staple street food in many Arab countries and has made its way to being a staple in many Arab households here in the United States.” Sabbahi shared. “Cooking it always takes me back to summer vacations spent overseas with family, walking crowded streets filled with various aromas, beautiful faces and historic buildings. I wanted to share a small part of that experience with the Common Threads family. This recipe is quick, easy and extremely versatile, making it ideal for a family meal!”
ABOUT COMMON THREADS
Common Threads is a national nonprofit that provides children and families cooking and nutrition education to encourage healthy habits that contribute to wellness. We equip under-resourced communities with information to make affordable, nutritious and appealing food choices wherever they live, work, learn and play. We know that food is rooted in culture and tradition, so we promote diversity in our lessons and recipes, encouraging our participants to celebrate the world around them. To learn more, visit www.commonthreads.org or on social media by searching for #CookingForLife.