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Community Dinner aims to bring families together

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Pam Wright

Monica Ostlund wants us all to go back in time— at least when it comes to mealtime.

“Not eating together wasn’t the norm 50 years ago,” says the Rapids Family Health Team dietician.

“The norm was to go home and share with your family.”

Ostlund said she recently visited Spain where family dinners remain a strong tradition.

“It’s a natural thing,” she said, adding families meet and bring their own food.

Her office is partnering with the Lambton Senior’s Association on Sept. 15 to host the Better Together Community Dinner at Lighthouse Church.

Spreading the word about the importance of family meals is the goal, Ostlund said.

Sharing three meals weekly as a family has been shown to improve children’s self-esteem and academic performance, and even help offset problems down the road such as substance abuse.

And it’s not just eating dinner together, she said. Sharing breakfast, lunch and after-school snacks together can be just as important.

Hectic schedules, a rise in convenience foods and a decrease in cooking skills are often blamed for a decline of the family meal,

A family meal is defined as: Having at least one adult present, in the family home, and eaten without distraction.

The last one is especially important, Ostlund said, because meaningful conversation improves when smartphones, TVs and other electronics are switched off.

Better nutrition is another benefit, with meals prepared at home tending to include more fruit and vegetables.

Those attending the Sept. 15 event will receive a take- home family meal kit developed by the Rapids Momentum team. It includes recipe and conversation cards to encourage age-appropriate cooking, and activities designed to spark fun and conversation.

A ‘wavy chopper’ safe cutting tool is part of the package, so younger children can help prepare meals safely.

“We’re promoting quality as much as quantity,” Ostlund said. “The community dinner is an awesome opportunity for people to enjoy an evening with their families.”

The free lasagna dinner begins at 5:30 p.m. at Lighthouse Church, at the corner of Nelson and Parker streets. Seating is limited. To register, call 519-339-8949.

For more information on the Better Together Family Meal Project, contact Cynthia McColeman at [email protected]







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