A steady stream of cars driven by mothers, fathers, and grandparents lined up on a sunny afternoon to gratefully accept the gift of a free mealtime dinner entree courtesy of the Maplewood Hy-Vee.
As part of National Family Meals Month in September, Hy-Vee is partnering with the Food Marketing Institute to encourage busy families to make the time to gather around their kitchen or dining room tables.
On Sept. 13, Hy-Vee gave away dinners to busy families so they could sit down and enjoy the food together. Recipients chose between three mealtime entrees: beef burritos, chicken noodle bake, or spinach alfredo, a vegetarian option.
The 200 meals, available on a first-come, first-served basis in the drive-through, were handed out by Hy-Vee store employees. Recipients responded with smiles, fist-bumps, and hearty thank yous.
Hy-Vee has good reason to promote family meals. Although it sounds overly simplistic, regularly sitting down together to eat is a plus for all members of a family, with a positive impact that extends far beyond the nutrition in the ingredients on the table.
“There are so many benefits to sitting down and eating a meal with a family beyond the bonding time for all members,” explained Maplewood Hy-Vee manager John Blocker. “Studies show that kids who sit down with their families for meals get higher grades, have higher self-esteem and show other elements of success.”
In 35 years of ongoing scholarly research, multiple studies have shown the value of family meals for kids and parents. The research has proven that in families that eat a meal together several times a week, there is less depression, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, tobacco use, early teenage pregnancy, and also higher rates of resilience, which impacts mental health.
Mental health experts have concluded that the magic of sit-down mealtime happens when families gather together to talk, laugh, share their day-to-day struggles, and support each other through life’s ups and downs.
In addition to the free drive-through dinners, Hy-Vee also donated 100 Mealtime family dinners to the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities.