The FMI Foundation recognized eight food retailers, two suppliers and one community collaborator as elite contributors to the family meal movement. Each of the 2019 Gold Plate Awards recipients helped families achieve one more meal each week at home. The awards were presented at Stir It Up, the Foundation’s annual fundraising event, during the FMI Midwinter Executive Conference.
“We are continually impressed by the commitment of the more than 400 companies who join the family meals movement,” said David Fikes, executive director of the FMI Foundation. “These stores make a difference in their communities and their shoppers’ lives. Today’s winners found new ways, through innovative partnerships and programs, to support families having more meals together.”
Results of a nationwide survey with Harris Poll show 36% of Americans are cooking more meals at home and eating together more often as a family and 41% are making healthier food choices as a result of National Family Meals Month. The National Family Meals Month campaign witnessed a 45% increase in retailer participation, a 107% increase in supplier participation and a 159% increase in community collaborators since last year.
“The same Harris Poll found that 25% of Americans have seen the Family Meals Month campaign and that 84% of Americans are willing to commit to having one more family meal each week," Fikes said.
The movement was boasted across the country with support from regional leaders. In 2019, 18 states proclaimed September as Family Meals Month: Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont and Wisconsin.
Gold Plate Award Category: Retailer, 1–49 stores
Winner: Northgate Gonzalez Market
Program: "Cada Comida tiene una Historia/Every Meal has a Story"
Northgate Gonzalez Markets’ “Cada Comida tiene una Historia/Every Meal has a Story” campaign took a two-prong approach: The campaign provided all materials (written and audio) in both English and Spanish, an effective strategy to reach and engage the 40 diverse communities the stores serve in Southern California.
The goals of this family-owned company’s program were to bring awareness of the benefits of sharing a meal with family; share insightful tips to ease preparation of home cooked meals; and promote family meals by offering a Pilon/Deal of the week. Northgate created a special National Family Meals Month sticker label to place on its most popular items, building toward a full meal. More than 20,000 labels were used for its most popular products/Pilon of the week.
In addition to shoppers, Northgate also ensured associates had fun and learned the importance of family meals. Each store held health and wellness events for associates and shoppers. At its headquarters, each of the 10 departments had a team competing in a family-style potluck. Each department was given a different theme for their meal and more than 60 employees joined the family potluck meal.
Honorable Mention: Martin’s Super Markets
Program: "Family Meal Champ Challenge"
Gold Plate Award Category: Retailer, 50–199 stores
Winner: Tops Markets LLC
Program: "Tops Table Time"
Tops Friendly Markets’ “Tops Table Time” campaign used six local social media influencers in its campaign to drive home the importance and benefits of sharing family meals.
Influencers were given informational materials about National Family Meals Month, as well as recipes to share with their audience.
Tops’ marketing campaign included weekly ad circulars, in-store radio and signage, direct mail, digital media and social media. The campaign was mainly web-based, and the landing page featured a comprehensive family meals toolkit that included a 30-day challenge calendar, a “no phone challenge” template, shopping lists for different ages, recipe collection/Pinterest inspiration and ugly fridge sweepstakes.
The purpose of the Tops Table Time campaign was to challenge families to share one more meal together, as well as one more activity. Separate shopping lists for family members provided a template for food shopping together. Feedback from associates and shoppers revealed that this was their most engaged year yet and that the toolkit was a success.
Honorable Mention: Hannaford Supermarkets
Program: Snack Pals
Gold Plate Award Category: Retailer, 200 or more stores
Winner: Wakefern Food Corp.
Program: "ShopRite’s Family Meals Month: From Our Family to Yours”
Wakefern Food Corp’s “ShopRite’s Family Meals Month: From Our Family to Yours” campaign focused around the heartbeat of the company: family.
Wakefern stores are owned by 50 families. Store owners shared their own family mealtime stories, pictures and recipes with each other and customers to raise awareness on the benefits of sharing meals with one’s family.
Wakefern provided customers with free “From Our Family to Yours” family meals-themed recipe books featuring campaign messaging. The recipes from the booklet came from Wakefern employees, enabling them to share their family meals with their customers. An omnichannel marketing campaign included highway billboards, influencer-driven campaigns, more than 100 registered dietitians, social media, circulars, ads, commercials and recipe books.
Gold Plate Award Category: Retailer, 200 or more stores
Winner: Hy-Vee Inc.
Program: "2019 National Family Meals Month at Hy-Vee"
Hy-Vee Inc.’s “2019 National Family Meals Month at Hy-Vee” campaign had an overall purpose to increase awareness about the health and societal benefits of sharing frequent family meals and to provide information, resources and solutions to help make eating together easier.
Promotions included in-store events; TV and radio commercials; on-air news mentions; social media, digital and print advertising; in-store signage and announcements; and community outreach. During the first week of September, families of store owners and local news celebrities participated in a family meal set up in the middle of the store during business hours. This meal included a cooking demo and was the launch of the "win a free family meal" contest.
More than 3,000 customers entered the contest to win the free family meal and a $250 gift card to Hy-Vee for groceries. During the course of the campaign, Hy-Vee served $12,000 worth of free family dinners and distributed $30,000 in gift cards to 120 families across its eight-state area.
Hy-Vee also offered a “Kids Eat Free” promotion with the purchase of an adult entree at its Grille Express in-store restaurants. This promotion alone served 30,000 children in 117 locations. Hy-Vee registered dietitians also hosted weekly Facebook live segments featuring easy family recipes and Q&As. Each week, the store’s front case had a selection of grab-and-go dinners so families had the option of eating once they got home or preparing the meal together, making dinnertime less stressful. Lastly, Hy-Vee led efforts to secure proclamations from all governors in its eight-state region, resulting in September being named Family Meals Month in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
Honorable Mention: Stop and Shop
Program: "Meal Solutions/Dinner Daily"
Gold Plate Award Category: Rising Star
Winner: Newport Avenue Market
Program: "We Believe in Family Meals"
Newport Avenue Market’s “We Believe in Family Meals” reclaimed Tuesdays during its “What’s for Dinner Tuesday” campaign.
Every week, customers ordered Tuesday meal kits for pick up. These changed weekly, took no longer than 30 minutes to cook, and served a family of four. Each kit included recipes for the main dish, side dishes and a dessert, as well as a purple oven mitt. The purple mitts represented the “Raise Your Mitt to Commit” pledge to share one more family meal a week. These images were shared on social media and entered contestants to win a $100 gift card to Newport Avenue Market. The grocer also cultivated an eight-episode video YouTube campaign to enhance its meal kits.
Gold Plate Award Category: Supplier
Winner: Campbell Soup Co.
Program: "Campbell's Family Meals Month"
The goal of Campbell Soup Co.’s “Campbell’s Family Meals Month" campaign was to inspire customers to enjoy simple family meals more often. Campbell’s used social media, digital activations and in-store signage/displays to disseminate its campaign to consumers and health professionals. Circular coupons and monthly newsletters included promotions on family mealtime food items with links to the Campbell’s website.
The Campbell’s dietitian team also created a special edition of their monthly newsletter on campbellnutrition.com that linked to resources on the benefits of family meals, branded recipe solutions, FMI resources and showcased other nonprofit organizations participating in the National Family Meals Month campaign.
Honorable Mention: Eggland’s Best
Program: "EB Better Family Meals Program"
Gold Plate Award Category: Community Collaborator
Winner: National Pork Board
Program: "Meal Solutions for Schools, Retail and Partners"
National Pork Board’s “Meal Solutions for Schools, Retail and Partners” campaign goal was to spread awareness on the importance of National Family Meals Month through heritage and the importance of sustainable farming in partnership with Young Minds Inspired.
The organization developed downloadable handouts for teachers, parents and administrators. Emails to family and consumer sciences educators explained the importance of National Family Meals Month and how it can be tied into their curriculum. Each email highlighted a different topic: pork used in cultural food preparation (ham pinwheels, Peruvian-style pork stir-fry); sustainable farming practices; observances such as Hispanic Heritage Month featuring Latin flavors in pork and Heart Health Month in February, related to pork’s nutritional contribution.