Written By: Ellie Wilson, MS, RDN Senior Nutritionist Sitting down with your family, around a meal, catching up on everyone’s day and making plans together is one of the most basic things that families do together. We also know that families have a lot of challenges these days, and may not be able to make that classic family mealtime happen as often as they want. Family Mealtimes Matter is a campaign that we’ve been sharing with our customers for the last six years, with our partners at Cornell Cooperative Extension, to help families focus on making that family time happen in as many ways as possible. Turns out, family mealtimes are one of the most important things a family can do to set children up for good health and success. It doesn’t matter what meal it is, or even if the meal is really healthy – it is the time together that counts the most. Sharing food and conversation together can help children maintain a healthier weight, which generally means they do better with getting enough nutrients like calcium and fiber, and can protect them from eating disorders. Eating meals together also really improves their language and communication skills, helps them do better in school, and have fewer behavioral problems. So, even if the meal is not ideal, don’t miss the chance to sit and eat together. It helps children feel secure, bringing you all closer, and creates a little island of time to focus on each other, instead of our increasingly distracting world. This week, you will find a great Family Mealtimes Matter display in stores, with a handout for some fast, easy, kid and busy life-friendly recipes, and more resources on benefits of family meals. We also have resources online with helpful information updated periodically! We hope we have taken some of the stress out of making a nice meal with your family happen, and we would love to hear from you – any questions you have, what your strategies are for bringing your family together at the table, and more.