The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) is kicking off its fourth annual Family Meals Month in September to encourage families to eat one more meal at home together per week. More than 200 retail trading partners have jumped on board.
Among meals eaten each week, only about eight are eaten with family or household members—approximately two breakfasts, two lunches and four dinners, the latter for which only three are estimated to be eaten at home—according to the FMI's U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2018 report.
The campaign has accomplished its goal to increase the number of shared meals in the past, with Nielsen reporting that 84% of those who had seen Family Meals Month promotions had worked to eat together as a family more often and cook more meals at home. Additionally, 36% of survey respondents said they were urged to make healthier food choices and 35% were inspired to purchase more fruits and vegetables.
"It is exceedingly rewarding to have witnessed the lightening-speed growth of this movement and the initial, significant impact on consumer behavior," said Sue Borra, executive director of the FMI Foundation. She said 63% of consumers across every generation and across all income levels believe it is important to eat at home with their families or members of their households, with that number jumping to 85% for consumers with kids.
Illustration courtesy of the Food Marketing Institute
Borra cited "lots of barriers" that prevent family meals from taking place, but FMI's movement strives to help consumers "confront these barriers and to demonstrate easy ways to squeeze in just one more family meal per week at home with items from the grocery store."
"It may be easier to target breakfast as an opportunity for a family meal rather than dinner," Borra said. "It's not the time of day that matters, it's the family connection that counts. The potential benefits—physical, emotional, educational, societal—are well worth the extra effort."
Among the retailers participating in the campaign, Hy-Vee is joining the mission by offering programs such as in-store cooking classes, kid-friendly promotions, social media outreach and more.
“Many families have very busy schedules, but they also want to eat and be together,” said Randy Edeker, Hy-Vee's chairman, president and CEO. “This month, we are focused on ways we can make mealtime even easier and bring families back to the dinner table.”
As such, children will eat free all month at the retailer's Market Grille and Market Grille Express restaurants with the purchase of an adult entree. Hy-Vee will also highlight family meal deals, including grab-and-go dinner options such as prepared foods, and Mealtime Kits each week in stores.
Hy-Vee's in-store chefs and more than 200 in-store dietitians will also lead Kids in the Kitchen and other cooking classes to encourage families to prepare food together. The dietitians will also continue to provide in-store dietary consultations and will lead courses on topics such as kids nutrition and lifestyle management.
Additionally, the retailer will post daily and weekly recipes on its Twitter and Facebook pages that are simple and contain only a few ingredients and will also promote its Family Cooking Guide.
In order to further its commitment to family meals, Hy-Vee will be making three partnership donations over the course of the month. The retailer is partnering with the Iowa Beef Industry Council to give away more than $10,000 in Hy-Vee Mealtime Kit vouchers to families they see cooking beef at tailgate gatherings during 16 college or NFL football games across the upper Midwest; with Hormel Foods to give away more than 26,000 jars of Skippy Creamy Peanut Butter to Harvesters–The Community Food Network, in Kansas City, Miss.; and it is working with The Soulfull Project to donate more than 20,000 servings of multigrain hot cereal to the Food Bank of the Heartland in Omaha, Neb.