Friday, September 21, 2007

The Friday Fishwrap

U.S. Family Dinner Day Celebration Monday, September 24

Monday, September 24 is "Family Day--A day to eat dinner with your children" in the U.S. The event is organized by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University in New York City.

First launched in 2001 the annual national Family Day event is designed to remind parents that what their kids really want at the dinner table is them, according to CASA. The celebration is to encourage parents to frequently eat dinner with their kids and be involved in their lives. Family dinners and conversations go hand-in-hand, and having dinner together as a family helps parents learn more about their kids' lives, and better understand the myriad challenges their children face.

Casa launched the Family Day event as a response to the center's research which consistantly found that the more often children eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink and use drugs. Here are some facts from the center's research. Kids who have 5-7 family dinners with their parents per-week are:

>At a 70% lower risk for substance abuse
>Half as likely to try cigarettes or marijuana
>One-thrid less likely to try alchohol
>Half as likely to get drunk monthly
>Kids who have more frequent dinners with their parents tend to have better grades in school and to confide in their parents more often than those children who don't have frequent family dinners.

These positive findings regarding the importance of spending frequent family dinner time together are just some of the pro-social aspects of eating together as a family that CASA has discovered in their research. You can read about the center's research findings and discover additional information about Family Day here. You can also watch a video presentation of the center's latest study, "The Importance of Family Dinners IV Report" at the site.

Special Family (dinner) Day events are being planned throughout the U.S. for September 24. Additionally, supermarkets, restaurants and other food stores of all sizes are holding promotions for "Family Dinner Day," including sponsorships and donations to non-profit charities and groups.

One major event will be in California, where the state's First Lady Maria Shriver, is joining more than 300 families for dinner at the Tenderloin Community School in San Francisco on September 24. The Tenderloin is an impoverished area in the city where family dinner time can be the exception rather than the norm.

California-based Safeway Stores is the major sponsor of both the California First Lady's dinner with the Tenderloin families and of Family Day in general. The retailer is the "Family Day Research Sponsor," which is the top category of all of the event's major national sponsors. In addition the Safeway Foundation, the chain's philanthropic arm, also is a "Research Sponsor."

Other major food and grocery industry sponsors include: Clorox Company (and its program), Kroger Co., General Mills, McDonalds, Shop Rite Supermarkets, Del Monte Foods, The J.M. Smucker Company, Macy's Department Stores, Acosta Sales and Marketing (food broker) and You can read more about the sponsors here.

Safeway is donating $100,000 to CASA to help with its research programs. Safeway also is donating all of the ingredients needed to prepare a complete family meal to all of the 300 families attending the prepared dinner with Ms Shriver. The families will get free take-home bags from the grocer following the dinner. The chain also is sponsoring similar events in Chicago and Washington D.C. This month Safeway launched "Connect Together" a major in-store and online program designed to urge families to connect over meals and activities in order to build stronger families and communities. (See the graphic at left) You can learn more about Safeway's "Connect Together" here.

Consumer packaged goods company Clorox Co. also is providing major support both in California and nationally for Family Day and CASA. The company, via its program, is the "Gold" sponsor of "Family Day," second only after Safeway. Clorox, maker of bleach, cleaning products and food brands like Hidden Valley, KC Masterpiece and others, is donating $90,000 to the national Family Day campaign. The company also has launched a program called , a website which offers families tips, ideas and resources on how to increase family meal time together. In California, where Clorox has its corporate headquarters, it's hosting the dinner (a BBQ) for the 300 families dining with Ms. Shriver on September 24th. Clorox also owns the Kingsford Charcoal brand.

There are a number of other corporations, businesses and non-profit groups supporting the event headed by California's First Lady Maria Shriver. You can read more about the event and about them here.

Supermarket chain Kroger Co. is a major sponsor of Family Day and CASA. Like Safeway the chain is making a donation to the center and sponsoring related events. Safeway and Kroger, as well as many other food retailers, are promoting family Day family dinners in their stores, in their weekly newspaper circulars and in other print and broadcast media formats. Displays feature all the ingredients to prepare a complete family meal including numerous recipe cards.

Retailers also are featuring lots of prepared foods in Family Day family dinner promotions. Raley's Superstores in California (Raley's Nob Hill Foods, Bel-Air banners) created a full-page insert in its weekly advertising circular devoted to the concept and event. The ad features research findings from CASA on the importance of families eating together along with a handful of prepared foods items, some grocery items on sale along with a couple of recipes using the featured items. The full page advertisement devoted half of its content to the public service aspect of the event and the other half to promoting items.

Ralph's Supermarkets, a Kroger banner, is promoting the event in its Southern California stores and via the media as well, with in-store displays, specials on prepared family meals and basic grocery items. Ralph's is using its weekly advertising circulars to print information from CASA about positive aspects of family meal time. "Sharing meals together as a family is a simple, powerful and effective tool to help children and teens make more positive choices," said Ralph's president Mike Donnelly, in explaining the retailer's support for the event and program.

Other supermarket operators participating and promoting Family Day include Florida-based Publix, Price Chopper Markets, Shop-Rite and Shaw's in the east and New England and others chains and independents throughout the U.S.

Price Chopper is participating with Clorox's and the TV Land television network in a multi-media promotion called "The Family Table." TV Land has put together all sorts of resources for families (see the graphic at left) and is conducting promotions with Clorox brands and retailers like Price Chopper an others. (You can get TV Land's Family Table information here. information is available here. Price Chopper stores are using the "Family Table" logo in-store to designate all the family meal specials they are featuring throughout the store.

We hope the food and grocery industry not only continues to support Family Day and CASA but also finds even more ways to encourage family mealtime. It is not only in the industry's economic interest to do so it's positive social, community and corporate behavior as well. As CASA's research demonstrates, something as simple as frequent family meal and discussion time can make the difference between a child's doing well, avoiding substance abuse, feeling wanted, and becoming vital member of society. Family Day is a great celebration and we share the goal of making as many days as possible family meal days during each and every week--not just the one beginning on September 24.

Note: Friday Fishwrap will be back to its regular format next week. We wanted to devote our space this week to writing about this important event today since it's on Monday.

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