Promoting Healthy Mealtimes for Families -Take the Family Meals Challenge!


What is the Family Meals Challenge?

The Family Meals Challenge workshops rapidly strengthen a vital family habit – bringing the family together more often to increase quality connections between parents and their children. ‘Family Meals’ builds effective family practices for wellness, literacy and achievement.

Why take the Family Meals Challenge?

The Family Meals Challenge is for parents who want more!

At every Parenting Partners graduation we hear, “I want to keep going with more workshops.” In response, we developed Family Meals as a 3 week series of targeted workshops focusing on strengthening one family habit—bringing the family together more often to increase quality connections between parents and their children.

The Family Meals Challenge is for educators who want more—who want to develop extended options for parent engagement on their campuses.

Not only does the Family Meals Challenge offer another opportunity for Parenting Partners graduates, but it also gives you an exciting option to reach more parents.

For some parents, the “Core Six” workshops of Parenting Partners was challenging to schedule or commit to.  For those parents the shorter three weeks of Family Meals workshops can feel more approachable.

You can also offer the online version of the Family Meals Challenge workshops for parents on the go.  They can jump in immediately and take the workshops on their smartphone at their own pace.

During our Parenting Partners workshops we ask thousands of parents and educators:
What is one strategy your family can use to empower your children to be successful and to grow closer as a family?

The number one answer is:
Increase the number of family meals!

This is the overwhelming answer in more than 100 cities with Parenting Partners workshops.

Harvard and Columbia University researchers looking for powerful strategies that boost school success have come to the same conclusion: adding more family meals is a proven strategy that increases literacy and academic performance!

So much consensus!  But how do we push over this first domino of family health improvement?

In 2016 Family Leadership developed a popular set of workshops called “Take the Family Meals Challenge!” to put that first domino in motion. Thousands of families have now achieved family health improvements from the workshops.

What are the benefits of the Family Meals Challenge?

Family Meals brings parents on board to contribute to the key priorities of your schools:

  • Language development, early learning, and literacy promotion
  • Substance abuse prevention
  • Managing technology and social media influences
  • Health and wellness strategies

The Family Meals Challenge implements the dynamic research about family practices that produces an academic boost to your students.

Family Meals Challenge produces rapid improvement in family and student outcomes through a highly targeted strategy to change one simple, manageable family practice—increasing the quality and number of shared family meals.

The Family Meals Challenge is the domino that promptly impacts language development, early learning, literacy promotion, substance abuse prevention, managing technology, and family well-being.

The Family Meals Challenge workshops are delivered in two formats, giving your families two options:

  • In person weekly workshops for three weeks, led by parents or staff.
  • Online workshops that families can do on their smartphone or computer at their own convenience. The online workshops are currently being beta tested in select schools and health partners.

In the workshops parents challenge one another to improve the content and number of weekly family meals.  Our goal is to bring as many families to the 5 meals a week goal as possible.

  • Our surveys show that the number of families reaching the 5 meals a week goal more than doubles after the three week workshops.
  • Before the workshops nearly half the families were at 1 to 2 meals a week. After the workshops 98% reached 3 or more meals a week.

What is Included in the Workshops?

Family Meals Challenge Workshops equip families with practical resources!

In the workshops parents:

  • Receive practical tools for encouraging family conversations, including placemats & games with conversation starters.
  • Apply top research in early literacy, school achievement, and prevention to their own families.
  • Develop skills for effectively managing technology in the home.
  • Get access to interactive online resources for enhancing family nutrition.

Multilingual Materials to Reach Parents

All materials are in English and Spanish including parent handouts, take-home games, videos, Facilitator Manuals, presenters’ PowerPoints, and the online workshops.

What are the Outcomes?

Families achieve rapid improvement in vital areas!

The outcomes of the workshops link to the research from the Columbia University CASA studies on Family Meals and the Harvard University projects.

  • Language development – more talk time with infants and teens
  • Closer family connections – increased school performance & substance abuse prevention
  • Managed technology use – parents take an active role in managing technology habits
  • Better nutritional choices – increased understanding of nutritional needs

Why add this resource to your schools?

Here’s a manageable way to bring home the key elements of academic improvement!

Your staff is working hard on key academic improvement areas: early literacy, school achievement, managing technology, addiction prevention, and more.

But how do you bring it home?

For example, your health educators can teach students about the healthy eating styles, but the students don’t plan the dinner menu.  Your teachers can make reading assignments, but they can’t create a suitable learning environment in the home.

So let’s bring the tools for success directly to the parents!  The Family Meals Challenge is a manageable way to bring home key foundations for academic improvement.

Just contact your Parenting Partners Director, and we’ll help get the Family Meals Challenge launched at your school.

Together, let’s take the Family Meals Challenge!