Family Table Time

— Written By families prepping and eating a meal

I think we’d all agree that communication is the most important trait in any relationship – especially in families. This is why every session of our Empowering Youth and Families Program (EYFP) starts out with a meal. Prior to Covid, all EYFP participants would all sit at a large table together and enjoy food prepared or ordered and served “family style”. This time around, families are still eating together, just at individual tables. Even with our current Covid restrictions we are seeing the benefits of having a family meal together. Families are taking time to slow down, put away the tech devices, and are actually communicating with one another.

When a family sits down together, it helps them handle the stresses of daily life and the hassles of day-to-day existence. Frequent family meals are associated with higher self-esteem and positive academic outcomes, as well as decreased depression, alcohol and substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, and violent behaviors. In EYFP we refer to these benefits from something as simple as a family meal, as a protective factor. Protective factors are characteristics associated with a lower likelihood of negative outcomes.

I encourage every family no matter what size or age range, to sit down together at some point during the day over a meal and make it part of your routine. For some, breakfast might work. For others it might be better for your schedule to do supper. You can always take it to another level by preparing the meal together. Get everyone involved! Even little ones can put silverware on the table, get napkins, or help clear the table.

For more ideas to get your family involved in meal time, contact our local Cooperative Extension office!

  • Ask Jordan English, the county 4-H agent, about camps and classes that involve kids being in the kitchen, developing healthy habits, or learning to use kitchen equipment properly
  • Reach out to Sue Estridge, our FCS agent for different cooking techniques, preparing certain foods safely, or for creating new traditions such as canning or fermenting
  • Contact Sara Runkel, our Ag agent for tips on how to grow your own fresh fruits and veggies or for learning when different produce is in season

For more information about our Empowering Youth and Families Program, please visit our county blog or check us out on Facebook!

Written By

Niki Maness, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionNiki ManessProgram Assistant, Empowering Youth and Families Program Call Niki E-mail Niki 4-H Youth Development
NC State Extension, NC State University
Updated on Apr 7, 2021
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