Grocers Promote Family Meals

Discussion
May 08, 2006
George Anderson

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

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10 Comments on "Grocers Promote Family Meals"


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Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 9 months ago

Race is right: maybe a family’s troubles go much deeper, so not eating together is simply a symptom. Does anyone else have the feeling that if the grocer’s publicity advocates “families eating together” the troubled families will just tune out that message? Somehow the image of Barbara Bush and other celebs telling people to eat with their families doesn’t seem that powerful when viewed from the perspective of troubled families.

Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
14 years 9 months ago

An executive of CASA (the organization involved with this program) gave an overview as part of the “Speaks” presentation at the FMI show today. He cited numerous statistics showing the benefits of families eating meals at home, including that teenagers who eat with their parents frequently are less likely to smoke, take drugs, and abuse alcohol. They also have better grades. Several celebrities are doing PSA’s for the “Family Day” event, including former first lady Barbara Bush, actress Jamie Lee Curtis, and comedian George Lopez. As a community service/P.R. initiative, it seems like a “no brainer.” And with the recent resurgence/appeal of cooking, family mealtime might even become cool again.

Dan Nelson
Guest
Dan Nelson
14 years 9 months ago

I’m sure if you asked family members if they prefer to eat together or eat “on the run” as so many families do now, the overwhelming response would be to eat together. That response would only be reinforced by the value to teenager health, obesity and addiction problems created by lack of family connectivity; especially around meals.

The real challenge for families centers on hectic lifestyles driven by many factors. The American Dream of a bigger house, new cars, and all the latest fads and possessions, are the biggest factor in the erosion of family unity and togetherness. Americans work more hours and take less time with family doing things together than ever before, and that has come at the expense of family unity.

These latest statistics may impact a few families to reprioritize, but the reality is most families will continue to pursue the American Dream, with the consequences we continue to see as the result.

Ragnar Haugan
Guest
Ragnar Haugan
14 years 9 months ago

Grocers should promote family meals! And support every campaign related… Their competitors are still HORECA and Fast Food businesses all over! And being able to support a campaign that tells the customers that eating at home has a good effect on your kids future behavior and show that you care about your customer and her/his family could be an interesting follow up in a grocer’s marketing/ communication plan. Most parents would like to get assistance in finding the best way of keeping their children away from drugs/alcohol and even find their way back to the kitchen and dining room — with food from the grocers of course. I think we, in the grocery business, have lost too much of our food sales to the restaurant and fast-food industry.

David Livingston
Guest
14 years 9 months ago

This idea is worth exploring but I wonder if promoting meals at home will have much impact. The restaurant industry will just counter with promoting families eating out or whole health as menus get healthier. One big area of people eating away from home the free breakfast and lunch programs at public schools. The grocery industry needs to lobby against these give-a-way programs that have helped lead to the loss of supermarkets in low income, underserved areas. While their intended purpose is well meaning, it is taking dollars away from our retailers. The industry needs to lobby for programs than encourage the buying of food in supermarkets.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
14 years 9 months ago
Priority sales points would be to persuade consumers that buying food to eat at home is fast, easy, convenient and cheap. If it also happens to be healthier and/or a way of encouraging the kids to sit down at the table with you rather than rushing off to find drink/drugs then all the better. Of course they wouldn’t be rushing off in the first place if parents hadn’t shown them how easy it is to eat in a fast food restaurant or shove something into the microwave to eat on the run. It isn’t up to the grocery stores as much as it is up to the parents. All right, so the stores have to show them how to do it. But supplying more food to take away or heat and serve isn’t necessarily going to do the trick either. It’s the parents who need to be motivated, not the kids. Somehow they have to believe that being a good parent isn’t just a matter of keeping the kids occupied with different clubs and activities… Read more »
Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
14 years 9 months ago
Grocers already supply all the good foods necessary for meal get-togethers for the entire family, except the psychic benefits that young people seek today. Grocers’ excellent offerings haven’t proven to have sufficient magic in creating impetus for more meals with the entire family. Good food doesn’t seem to be enough to make that happen. What else might grocers do? They could offer high profile things like free sports and entertainment tickets to kids who regularly eat with their families, have family discussions, set family goals and allow them to be announced publicly. If such an idea has some merit, I’ll leave the methodology for others to develop. Perhaps it could be a program that FMI could sponsor since grocers are their prime constituency. Re NCASA’s research, our society has developed a “what’s in it for me” phenomenon which has relegated meals with the entire family into the dugout. Religion, abstinence, family discussions and goal setting have not found a commanding contemporary voice. Will the research done by the NCASA inspire more meals with the entire… Read more »
Race Cowgill
Guest
Race Cowgill
14 years 9 months ago
This news story is like many others in that it doesn’t tell us explicitly if one phenomenon (eating together) CAUSES the other (less smoking, drinking, and drug use), but then it proposes ideas that are based on the assumption that one DOES cause the other. It seems unlikely to me that eating together CAUSES less smoking and drinking and drug use. It may be instead that having fewer of the factors that DO cause drinking, etc., is the condition that also causes families to also eat together more often. The Associated Press story needs to ask better questions about this data and give us more information. My point is that I doubt that consumers will buy the assertion that having more meals together will help keep kids off drugs. Just because you tell them something doesn’t mean consumers will believe you. I have seen again and again through our research that consumers are not as malleable as we may think and hope they are. We need to understand what drives consumers to not eat at… Read more »
Ganapathy Subramanian
Guest
Ganapathy Subramanian
14 years 9 months ago

Somebody should take an initiative. Well, finally grocers are. This is a universal issue.

Even countries like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are experiencing the same.

One of the reasons…people think that they do not have enough time to spend with their family. This cannot be accepted. We have to make time for them.

Putting in longer hours at work is fine, but a human being gets total happiness only when his or her family is happy. If the family is suffering, how can a human get happiness?!

Nowadays, old homes are cropping up heavily, because the youngsters do not want to live with their parents. BUT EVERYBODY FORGETS ONE THING; WE WILL ALSO GET OLD ONE DAY AND AT THAT TIME, IF OUR KIDS ARE NOT AROUND WITH US, WHATEVER THE MONEY WE HAVE WILL NOT HAVE ANY MEANING AT ALL.

Life completes only when the family union exists.

Thanks, that grocers take this good initiative.

Odonna Mathews
Guest
Odonna Mathews
14 years 9 months ago
The focus on “family day” can’t be just an event on September 25 in order to make it successful for consumers and retailers. It must be a year round commitment to offer consumers more choices, in more convenient ways, in a variety of areas of the store. And these choices can show an increasing number of “non-cooks” how to cook quick but healthy meals. The recent FMI Prevention Shopping for Health study showed that consumers find there are not enough healthy options available in frozen, packaged and ready to eat foods as well as in prepared food. With more than 60% of consumers saying that they believe their diets can be healthier (and 70% of families with children), I believe there is a broad audience of shoppers who want supermarkets to do more to make their lives easier to make weekly dinners. (Just ask any Mom!) Those retailers can embrace the new research from CASA, communicate it to consumers in a positive way by showing the meals that can be “assembled” or made quickly. A… Read more »
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