Illinois Farmers are Joining the National Family Meals Month Movement and You Should, Too
There’s something special about sitting down at the table, together as a family, to enjoy a meal. However simple this activity might seem; it actually does a lot of good. That’s why Illinois farmers are joining the National Family Meals Month movement, committing to one more meal together, at home, each week. We hope you’ll join us too.
What is Family Meals Month?
The whole month of September is dedicated to the National Family Meals movement. It’s an initiative started by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) in 2015 and is now promoted by health professionals, community groups, grocery retailers, and others.
The idea: Encourage families to spend more mealtimes together.
The challenge: Commit to one more meal together as a family, at home, per week, during September.
Why are Family Meals Important?
Family meals are good for the body, brain, and soul. Check out these stats shared by FMI:
- A 2020 study published in Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior found that family meals improve fruit and vegetable consumption.
- Family meals are a great source of connection. The “Staying Strong with Family Meals” Barometer found nine out of 10 Americans express positive sentiments about the family meals experience, with 70% of those having in-person family meals feeling more connected.
- Eating more meals together as a family is associated with improved overall adolescent health: reduced adolescent drug use, delayed sexual activity, reduced symptoms of depression, violence and suicide, and higher grades among youth.
- They’re good for adults, too! Young parents who prioritize family meals have healthier dietary outcomes, weight outcomes and psychosocial outcomes.
Family Meals Inspired by Illinois Family Farmers
Illinois farmers are no stranger to family traditions, especially given 96% of the farms in Illinois are still family-owned. Gathering around the table as a family to eat together is one of those traditions Illinois farm families love. But schedules can fill up and life can get crazy — whether that’s attending all the school activities or trying to harvest a crop in a short window of good weather. Sometimes, you have to get creative with family mealtimes. That’s why we’re going all in on National Family Meals Month, including dinner on us via our IFF Mealtime Box sweepstakes, and easy-to-make recipes so you can join the challenge, too. Get the details below!
IFF Mealtime Box Sweepstakes
The only thing better than family mealtime is family mealtime made with local, Illinois-raised meats, cheeses, and other products — shipped right to your door! Follow us on Facebook and/or Instagram and comment on our weekly sweeps post to enter for the chance to win one of these boxes. We’ll draw a new winner each week during the month of September! See official rules.
- Box #1 — Sumner Point Beef
Enjoy a whole lot of homegrown beef thanks to two families in Sumner Township that would say their specialty is “corn, kids, and cattle.” If you love a good cut of meat, look no further than Sumner Point Beef. High-quality meat has been this family’s craft for 7-going-on-8 generations.
- Box #2 — Turasky Meats Pork Bundle
Turasky Meats in Springfield is a third generation, locally owned meat processor and retail store that’s been serving quality meats since 1949. This shop knows meat. Turasky Meats has received numerous awards for a variety of their products.
- Box #3 — Marcoot Jersey Creamery
A full-on cheese board definitely counts as dinner, especially when it features local, artisan cheeses from Marcoot Jersey Creamery, a family-run dairy that dates back to the 1840s. Today, their Jersey herd is milked with a robotic milker and their cheeses are aged in an underground aging cave. Enjoy the cheese box, then plan a visit to their farm in Greenville.
- Box #4 — Inboden’s Gourmet Meats & Specialty Foods
This box from Inboden’s features all things local — beef, pork, honey, and more. Inboden’s in DeKalb was started in 1962 by Ocie and Leona Inboden and is still run by members of the family today.
Easy-to-Make Recipes Shared by Local Illinois Family Farmers
We know mealtime planning and execution is easier said than done. So, we’re teaming up with four family farmers to share their go-to, easy-to-make mealtime recipes. Plus, learn more about the local farm families growing and raising your food!
Jamie and her family farm just an hour outside of Chicago, raising cattle until they’re ready to go to market. They also grow corn and soybeans, which the cattle eat. With three growing kids of their own, make-ahead meals are essential during busy times on the farm, and these freezer meal BBQ meatballs hit the spot every time!
Deanne farms in Waterman with her husband and his family, growing corn, soybeans, and hay, and raising beef cattle. During busy farm seasons like planting and harvesting, this is a go-to recipe for Deanne’s family. It’s easy to make and easy to eat — perfect for meals out in the field!
Lorilee is a dairy farmer in northern Illinois. Her farm, Mil-R-Mor Farm, is home to four generations of family and about 140 Holstein cows, heifers, and calves. They also grow corn, alfalfa, wheat, and soybeans, mostly to feed their cattle, and have about 40 acres of pastureland for cows to graze. One of their favorite meals to gather around the table together for is this mac and cheese — total comfort food and ready in minutes!
The Dollingers grow corn, soybeans, and pumpkins, and during the fall months, they welcome visitors out to their farm to enjoy their pumpkins, corn maze, and more. So, crock pot meals are a must at their house and this recipe is one of their favorites.
There’s so much to enjoy about family meals, and so much to gain. We encourage you to sit down to more family meals this month. We’d love to see what you cook up and who you’re sharing it with — just use the hashtag #ILFamilyMeals and tag @IllinoisFarmFamilies on social!