I was interviewing Ken Kullack, a local leader of a nonprofit Community Garden, on my podcast this week and when answering why he was so passionate about Community Gardens, he stated that one of his main reasons related to the growing trend of American families no longer eating together.
For some time now, there has been a clear trend of families grabbing food “on the go”, in the car or in front of a TV or computer screen, instead of around a table with their family.
This trend mirrors a sharp decline in our culture today of overall connecting with each other. In general, we are connecting less, volunteering less and having less actual face-to-face social (non-digital) interaction. It seems that America is becoming the loneliest nation in the world. In fact, the late Mother Theresa once stated that loneliness is the “leprosy” of modern society, especially in the West.
Could the dinner table become the catalyst to regaining our sense of relational connectedness?
According to current studies, “the majority of American families report eating a single meal together less than five days a week.”(2) Not only that, but I later learned that children who do not eat with their parents at least twice a week were 40 percent more likely to bet overweigh compared to those who do according to recent research (3).
Conversely, children who eat with ether parents at least five or more days a week eat healthier and even have better academic performance. There are many reasons cited for these results regarding children’s health with the main reason being the fact that most meals eaten away from the home are most often less healthy than a meal cooked at home.
We all want our kids to be healthy and we certainly want our kids to perform well academically. Perhaps we need to relook at the simple practice of sharing a meal together as a positive step towards those goals. What if we as Americans began to reestablish the dinner table as a place of connection with our family and our friends without the distraction of the ubiquitous digital devices in our lives?
The health and well being of our kids is too important to overlook.