National Eat Together Week: Poll finds family dinners overlooked in student schedules

By Willa Simmet 2008

It’s dinner time at the Widen household.

The menu includes pigs in a blanket, a steaming bowl of homemade creamy potatoes straight from the farmers market, a platter of cucumbers, tomatoes and carrots just picked from the family garden, plus fresh peaches and grapes spread across the dinner table. The family marches in from playing in the afternoon sun, lounging in the living room and doing their homework in their respective bedrooms.

Unfortunately, for many CFHS students, picking up a hamburger or chowing down on leftover pizza is a more familiar scenario.

The week, Sept. 18-24 is National Eat Dinner Together Week. The week was established 10 years ago by the National Pork Board.

Regarding whether families eat a healthy, well-balanced meal together every night, 58 percent of the 120 CFHS students responded to the Hi-Line survey with no.

Many students say that there isn’t enough time to eat with their families.

“My family never eats together because my mom is usually at work and my brother is at the baby sitter,” sophomore Nicole Reed said.

“I think that today people don’t have as much time to sit down at the table and eat together, but they should try for once a week even if they are not all eating the same thing,” sophomore Hannah Peterson said.

A parent of six, two at Cedar Falls High School, and a grandmother of two, LuAnn Widen said, “We think it’s really important to eat together because it’s the one time we all see each other. We have always done that.” LuAnn and Doug Widen have a large family, and eating dinner together every night keeps them on budget. “Eating out is just too expensive,” LuAnn said.

LuAnn enjoys growing food for her family in her backyard garden and buying food from the Cedar Falls Market.

“We have always had a garden, and we are always anxious to eat food from it,” LuAnn said.

Senior Erin Thode said, “I like eating with my family because we bond and get to know each other better.”

When eating a home-cooked meal together, a family is more likely to eat healthier and eat more locally grown foods.

“Whenever we do get the chance to eat together as a family, my mom tries to make it as healthy as possible,” junior Rachel Thompson said.

Kamyar Enshayan, director of Buy Fresh, Buy Local at the University of Northern Iowa, said few children these days are taught to prepare meals. Cooking is the best way for them to be exposed to locally grown food.

He said his daughter, who is in elementary school, makes a salad from lettuce, cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes that she picks from their garden. She cleans the vegetables, chops them up and mixes them in a bowl.

“Isn’t it nice that the food we eat comes from people aroudn us that we know and isn’t vulnerable to energy prices or terrorist attacks?” Enshayan asked. “It’s real security when people around you grow the food you eat.”


You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.