You Have the Power to Enrich Lives: Join the 2016 National Family Meals Month Movement this September!

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You Have the Power to Enrich Lives: Join the 2016 National Family Meals Month Movement this September!

By Susan Borra, RD, Executive Director, FMI Foundation, and Chief Health and Wellness Officer, FMI - 07/19/2016

Very rarely does an opportunity present itself that is a true benefit for all involved. National Family Meals Month, a retail food industry-wide movement celebrated each September to raise awareness of the benefits of frequent family meals, is such an opportunity.

Family meals are at a critical intersection in our nation. Family meals eaten at home have been proven to benefit the health and wellness of children and adolescents, fight obesity and substance abuse, and make families stronger—creating a positive impact on our communities and our nation as a whole. Families acknowledge the benefits, yet report difficulties in making family mealtime happen.

FMI's National Family Meals Month mascot, Mitty the Mitt, poses with Leslie G. Sarasin, president, FMI Foundation and President and CEO, FMI; and FMI Foundation Chairman Randy Edeker, chairman of the board, president and CEO, Hy-Vee, Inc.

In 2015, the Food Marketing Institute Foundation saw the opportunity to address a significant societal need, unite the food retail and manufacturer community around a synergistic cause, and highlight the critical role that grocers play in helping consumers prepare and enjoy meals each day. National Family Meals Month began with more than 60 retailers and 30 suppliers participating in the movement, and the results were phenomenal. An evaluation by the Nielsen-Perishables Group found that 74 percent of consumers who saw information on National Family Meals Month reported taking some action, including making healthier choices or eating together more. Response to the inaugural National Family Meals Month has been so positive that additional retailers and suppliers continue to sign on to support the effort in September 2016.

We have also seen third-party validation of our program. National Family Meals Month was recognized as a Silver Award winner in the category of “The Power to Enrich Lives” by the Power of “A” Awards sponsored by the American Society for Association Executives (ASAE). This award celebrates extraordinary contributions associations make to society.

It's a true honor to be recognized, and one of our major goals is to recognize our partners. In addition to telling the stories of retailers that are helping make family meals possible around the country, FMI Foundation is redesigning the Gold Plate Awards to highlight outstanding programs implemented as part of National Family Meals Month. In 2015, Acme Fresh Market, Price Chopper, Ahold USA, and Mars Inc. were named as Gold Plate winners. Any company participating in 2016 is eligible to be considered for Gold Plate recognition, which will be announced at the FMI Mid-Winter Executive Conference.

Participating in 2016 does not have to be resource-intensive. The Foundation offers turnkey toolkits that contain key messages; research and trends; graphics; ideas for activation; and social media and content. Additionally, National Family Meals Month aligns easily with existing health and wellness programs.

We hope that all stakeholders in the retail food industry will take advantage of the opportunity to join the movement this year to help encourage one more meal at home each week. Your participation will demonstrate that your company and stores advocate for families every day by offering solutions that help busy families get wholesome meals on the table so they can reap the benefits of family mealtime.

It is our privilege to support and highlight the successes of your company and of the industry as a whole, and we look forward to working together to help consumers implement home meals as a family in 2016 and beyond! Visit www.FMIFamilyMeals.com for more information.