Family meals matter


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — September is National Family Meals Month, highlighting the benefits of simply sharing a meal.

Mealtime in Beth Jensen’s home is anything but boring. The mother of 3 says it all starts in the garden.

“We grow a lot of our own food, we go out and we decide what we’re going to make as a meal based on what’s coming up. So right now, like a lot of people, we have loads of tomatoes, so we’re doing a lot of tomato sauce and a lot of salsas,” Jensen said.

It’s not just dinner the family gets together for, but preparing the meal too.

“Mealtimes then, you know, really are prolonged or are extended over an hour or more because we’re all involved in every stage of it,” Jensen said.

“Enjoying a meal together as a family has lots of different health benefits, especially for kids. It can help improve social and communication skills,” Vondrak said.

Registered dietitian Melissa Vondrak says children who have regular family meals also have been shown to have higher grades in school and are less likely to get involved in drugs.

Even for the busiest of families, she says making the time matters.

“So even just trying to do one or two times a week can be very beneficial for families. Just spending that quality time together. There’s just something about that, that can’t be replaced,” Vondrak said.

And if cooking isn’t your thing, she says family meals don’t have to be at your dinner table to make a difference.

“Even something simple, Hy-Vee, for the month of September, our Market Grills are offering, with the purchase of an adult entree kids eat free,” Vondrak said.

No matter where meal time is, Jensen says it provides positivity during these uncertain times.

“We’ve been hit by all of the chaos and tumult that’s been going on in the world, but one of those silver linings is that we as a family have come together and had more of an opportunity to do some of these cooking projects together,” Jensen said.

Vondrak will be hosting a free zoom cooking lesson for families to participate in this Saturday. If you’d like to sign up, click here.

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