Food is an essential element for survival and especially now in these uncertain times, food can increase closeness and unite families and communities through sharing meals together. National Eat Better, Eat Together month serves to promote healthy eating habits among individuals of all ages. The benefits of families who frequently eat dinner together (at least five times per week) include improved social skills in children, reduction of stress in adults, and lowered risk of eating disorders and depression in teens. Another benefit of families who frequently eat dinner together is that it reduces risk of substance use disorders in teens.
For the past 18 years, The National Center on Addiction and Substance Use at Columbia University has been studying the impact of family dinners as a deterrent to teen substance abuse. The results from surveys given to American adolescents and their parents have repeatedly shown a "relationship between children having frequent meals with their parents and a decreased risk of their using drugs, drinking or smoking, and that parental engagement fostered around the dinner table is one of the most potent tools to help parents raise healthy, drug-free children" (Importance of Family Dinners Report VIII, 2012).
Here at Mercer Council, we pride ourselves in delivering high quality evidence-based prevention programs and services to Mercer County residents. We assist individuals of all ages to reach their full potential and lead healthy lives. One of our prevention programs, Protecting You, Protecting Me (PYPM) helps empower children in grades K-5 to make healthy choices and decisions as they grow and develop. Children learn about their brain including the reasons it is referred to as the boss of their body, and the ways to protect it such as eating nutritious and "brain-healthy" foods, wearing helmets and seatbelts, and saying "no" to alcohol and other drugs. We know it has been a trying time during this pandemic and quarantining at home these past several months. As difficult as these past few months have been and continue to be, this time has also brought many families and communities closer together in connectedness, love, and support. What at-home activities have you and your family/community engaged in together during this quarantine? If you and your family have explored the art of cooking together, we want to hear from you!
In celebration of Eat Better, Eat Together Month this October, along with it also being National Cookbook Month, the Mercer Council staff is extending an invitation for elementary school students (grades K-5) to submit their healthy family recipes to be featured in an upcoming recipe book! We are looking for healthy recipes that enhance physical and mental health and well-being. Along with your recipe submission, please share why you think your special recipe is healthy.
All participants will receive a goodie bag filled with Mercer Council giveaway items as a special thank you, and will also be automatically entered into a drawing to win 1 of 3 $25 ShopRite gift cards! The deadline to submit recipes is Monday, November, 2, 2020.
Recipe submission guidelines:
- Recipe must be original; please do not copy a recipe out of a cookbook or webpage.
- Recipe can be a sweet or savory dish, and you are allowed help from a parent or guardian.
- Picture is a must for readers to see the finished product. Photo must be your own and not taken from the internet.
- You must provide ingredients and directions for your recipe. Recipe must be understandable and easy to follow. The recipe needs to contain no more than 10 ingredients and contain a maximum of 10 steps.
- Do not forget to use commas and capitals at beginning of sentences.
- Recipe needs to be healthy. The more natural color, the better. If there are any specific dietary considerations for your recipe (i.e. vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, other), you will be able to indicate so on the recipe submission form.
- One recipe entry per child is permitted. Be sure to get your parents permission to participate!
Lettuce celery-brate Eat Better, Eat Together Month. Your special recipe deserves rec-egg-nition and apple-lause!
Please be sure to subscribe to the Mercer Council blog to keep up to date with our news and activities, and to learn more about the various programs and services our organization offers. Also, please feel free to share the health and wellness activities you and your family have been participating in during the quarantine in the comment section of this blog below. We would love to hear from you!
Please click on the links to the websites below for more information about the Eat Better, Eat Together initiative including access to a free online Eating Better Wellness guide, conversation starters at the dinner table, family games to play at the dinner table, recipe ideas, and more!