Voices from the Idaho EdNews Community

Family mealtimes offer a host of benefits for children

Jaclyn St. John

Thanksgiving is a time to remember those things that are most important to us.

The way food brings us together, brings joy and happiness to our lives, and reminds us to be thankful for the farmers who work seven days a week, 365 days a year to put that food on our table.

Did you know that only 2 percent of the population are farmers-providing food for the other 98 percent of us? That statistic startles me every time. Thank you, farmers!

Jaclyn St. John

Family mealtimes are a beautiful thing. The opportunity to have conversations around the table and connect with one another is one more reason to make it a priority not just during the holidays, but all year long.

Family meals research continues to emerge and offers a host of benefits for children and adults alike:

  1. Children who eat with their families are better nourished, have lower rates of obesity and better vocabularies1,2,3. These factors can have a positive impact on classroom behavior and academic performance.
  2. Family meals are a great way to instill healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime. By including your child(ren) in purchasing and meal decisions they are learning life skills by doing, not watching!
  3. Children who eat with their families consume more fruits, vegetables, milk and dairy foods compared to those who eat fewer family meals4.

With the hustle and the bustle of the holidays, planning family gatherings, meals and traditions, often we forget to slow down and remember the reason for the seasons. I hope this Holiday Season, you’ll be reminded of the important things and celebrate them together with your loved ones.

Together we continue to build a healthy, high-achieving generation of youth!

Written by Jaclyn St. John, registered dietitian, mom and lover of all things family, food, fitness and fun! St. John writes on behalf of dairy farm families in Idaho and Utah to promote the dairy industry and dairy products locally, nationally and globally. If you have questions or comments, please contact me at [email protected]


  1. Harrison ME, Norris ML, Obeid N, Fu M, et al. Systematic review off the effects of family meal frequency on psychosocial outcomes in youth. Canadian Family Physician. 2015 Feb;61(2):e96-e106.
  2. Utter J, Denny S, Robinson E, Fleming T, Ameratunga S, Grant S. Family meals and the well-being of adolescents. J Paediatr Child Health. 2013 Nov;49(11):906-11.
  3. Snow CE., Beals DE. Mealtime talk that supports literacy development. New Dir Child Adolesc Dev. 2006;(111):51-66.
  4. Neumark-Sztainer D, Hannan PJ, Story M, Croll J, Perry C. Family meal patterns: associations with sociodemographic characteristics and improved dietary intake among adolescents. J Am Diet Assoc. 2003; 103(3):317-322.

Jaclyn St. John

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