Grocers Promote Family Meals
By George Anderson
Research from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse shows that teenagers who do not eat meals with their families are more likely to develop alcohol and drug problems.
“The more often kids have dinner with their parents, the less likely they are to smoke, drink and use drugs,” said Joseph Califano Jr., former U.S. health secretary and head of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.
Grocers are looking to use the findings of this research to give adults more reasons to make family meals a priority.
The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) is encouraging its members to get behind this effort and educate consumers on the value of families sitting down to eat together. The association has said it will donate $25,000 to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse to help promote the organization’s Family Day planned for September.
Supermarkets, said FMI president and chief executive Timothy Hammonds, are always looking for ways to make it easier for families to sit down to meals together.
“Our members have worked hard to try to have easily prepared food either ready to eat or ready to heat to take home,” he told The Associated Press.
Food manufacturers such as Contessa Premium Foods, which makes frozen gourmet meals, are also looking to make it easier for families to sit down together.
“The preparation is the hardest part, so we try to combine a variety of tastes and flavors from around the world and make it fast and easy,” he said.
Another benefit, say advocates of home cooked meals, is that it makes it easier to control portion sizes and eat more nutritious foods.
Obesity is a major and growing issue among teens and younger children and part of the blame for that has been laid at the drive through window of fast food restaurants.
Mr. Hammonds believes supermarkets offer parents and their kids the best alternative. “If that means they cut back on some restaurant meals to do it, I think that’s great. The restaurant industry has been spending millions of dollars a year to get people to eat away from home.”
Katharine Kim, a spokesperson for the National Restaurant Association, said the key is not where families eat their meals as much as they eat them together. “People look forward
to having a night out; being able to share that with your family is a positive experience that restaurants are always looking to provide,” she said. “I think people can do both.”
Moderator’s Comment: What do you see as the factors and opportunities grocers have to convince consumers to eat more family meals in the home? Does research
such as that from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse make it more likely that parents will bring their entire family together on a more frequent basis to eat
meals at home and/or at restaurants? – George Anderson – Moderator