September is National Family Meals Month!

If there is a silver lining to the quarantine time we’ve all experienced in the last six months, it may be this: Americans are preparing and enjoying family meals – those prepared and eaten at home, in the company of loved ones – more than ever.

In fact, an incredible 94% of respondents in a recent survey conducted by the Food Marketing Institute Foundation say they are cooking the same amount or more than before the pandemic. And three-quarters of Americans report they are having the same amount or more family meals, both in-person and virtually.

What better time to recognize this than the month of September, as we mark the sixth annual National Family Meals Month.

As the pandemic ramped up earlier this year, and people across the country were suddenly eating at home far more often, came a new study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (JNEB)¹ that demonstrated the undeniable value of family meals. It showed a positive association between family meal frequency or dinner family meal frequency and family functioning outcomes.

Other interesting stats to consider:

  • Seventy-one percent (71%) of people who have been eating more in-person meals (and 70% having more virtual meals) agree that "I feel more connected to my family since the pandemic has started."

  • The majority of Americans – 78% - have positive sentiments about family meals such as: “they are a high point of my day,” or “they help to make me feel calm” or “they are an important part of my household’s regular routine.

  • Americans recognize the nutrition advantages of eating together. More than one-third recognize that they eat better when eating with others, and 40% say that the food they eat is more balanced or healthier than the food they eat when alone.

So, as many of us are gearing up for home school and continued work from home this fall, keep in mind the value of this family time together. The meals that you are preparing and eating with your family go a long way towards supporting everyone’s physical and mental health – and that is so important now, as continue to endure the Covid pandemic.

¹ JNEB. Published:January 23, 2020DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneb.2019.12.012

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