In all cultures throughout recorded history, family meals have been an honored ritual for sharing food and for providing an opportunity for family members to connect with one another. Recently, societal changes in family structures and schedules have served to undermine families having routine family meals. Surveys indicate that the vast majority of families (80%) value mealtime together, but the minority (33%) successfully achieve daily family meals.
Whether a family comes together to share meals can have a significant impact on a variety of outcomes. Family meals are positively associated with improved dietary quality, prevention of overweight, enhanced language acquisition and academic performance, improved social skills and family unity, and a reduction in risk-taking behaviors.
The “Promoting Family Meals” project, originating through the Center for Families at Purdue University, serves to study and promote the importance of family meals to parents and children; investigating the barriers and supports for achieving a family meal routine, and developing message concepts for promoting the family meal. Resources for promoting family meals are available via this web site. The Project partners with extension specialists and educators, community advocates and policy makers, health and social service providers, and others in the promotion of family meals.