The Family Mealtime bulletin board pictured above was created for the Tri-County Women, Infants and Children's (WIC) office in Vineland, NJ during my dietetic internship at South Jersey Healthcare. The nutrition lesson plan was titled 'Family Mealtime: Take a New Look'. Families and their children contributed to the board by coloring, gluing and sticking on the hearts, eyes and colorful letters to make the personalized art shown. The cut-out figures represented children and their families sharing mealtime together. The star burst illustrated five points to keep in mind when planning family mealtime:
- Make Mealtime Fun
- Make Mealtime a Priority
- Be Creative and Flexible
- Minimize Interruptions (from cell phones, TV, etc)
- Keep Meals Simple
Planning family meals can be more of a challenge for some than others, especially for parents who work at night. Family members share responsibilities. The grocery shopper has the responsibility for contributing to their family's health with the quality of the food selections bought at the store (fresh fruits and vegetables may be more affordable than you think). The person doing the cooking has the responsibility for the amount of added fat and salt in the finished prepared foods. Too much fat and sodium can lead to poor health - obesity, heart disease and hypertension.
Family Mealtime Improves Nutrition
Improved nutrition happens when young and old eat planned meals served at the family table. Home cooked meals are more likely to be healthier than fast foods grabbed on-the-go.
Researchers of 18,177 adolescents in a National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health found that the presence of a parent(s) at dinner is positively linked to higher consumption of fruits, veggies and calcium-rich dairy foods.  Another study found similar results: young adults who ate meals with their families, had statistically significant higher intakes of nutritious fruits and dark-green and orange vegetables, and lower intakes of soda, according to a 5-year longitudinal study in Minnesota that studied 946 female students and 764 male students in high school. The researchers concluded that eating family meals during adolescence may have a lasting positive influence on healthy diets and meal patterns. 
Benefits of family mealtime include:
- Improved Nutrition
- Better Communication
- Shared Learning
- Stronger Family Bonds
- Shared Cultural Heritage
Although eating meals with family has been shown to be an asset in adolescent development, many obstacles can stand in the way of planned family mealtime. Several books have been written about this. The good news is that many parents have reported that with some extra effort it was possible to plan enjoyable family meals at home.
Kids Health Family Meals
Correlations Between Family Meals and Psychosocial Well-being Among Adolescents
What is WIC?
Healthy Meals and Snacks for Families
 Larson NI, Neumark-Sztainer D, Hannan PJ, et.al.; Family Meals during Adolescence are Associated with Higher Diet Quality and Healthful Meal Patterns during Young Adulthood, Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Sept. 2007, Vol 107, Issue 9, p1502-1510