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The Family Table Initiative Launches January 2017

Eating together as a family has many benefits. Meals eaten as a family tend to be more healthful. They also give families an opportunity to communicate and strengthen relationships. Plus, teens who eat with their family regularly are less likely to get involved in risky behaviors such as smoking, drinking and taking drugs.


The North Dakota State University Extension Service is launching “The Family Table: Eat, Savor, Connect,” a program to provide families with tips, meal plans, recipes and conversation starters to help make family meals happen. The team that developed this program includes Extension food and nutrition and family science specialists.


“Research shows meals eaten with family members include less fat, less soda pop and more fruits and vegetables, and they tend to be higher in calcium, fiber and other essential nutrients,” says NDSU Extension food and nutrition specialist Julie Garden-Robinson, who helped create the program.


“Children who eat regular meals with family members are better able to pay attention in school and learn,” says NDSU Extension family science specialist Sean Brotherson, another contributor to the program. “When they eat with their families, young children also learn new words and expand their vocabularies. By the time they are teens, children who eat regularly with their families do better academically than their peers who do not.”


Eating meals as a family at home also can save money, according to NDSU Extension personal and family finance specialist Carrie Johnson, who worked on the program. 


“The Family Table: Eat, Savor, Connect” website ( provides information on monthly topics, such as meal planning, making mealtime fun, cooking basics, buying nutritious food on a limited budget, getting kids involved in meal preparation and family fitness. The site also will have links to related events in counties throughout the state.


You’ll be able to sign up for an electronic newsletter with recipes and tips, join challenges, and follow the program on Facebook at for more tips, meal plans and ideas for getting conversations going during family meals.

Visit to learn more about The Family Table.

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Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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