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Volume 13, Number 2 This newsletter is produced by the Nutrition Education Network of Washington, to enhance communication and coordination among those who educate Washington families about nutrition and food. Take 5 shares brief information about programs and materials that support healthful and enjoyable eating. Take 5 is intended to..... · take just 5 minutes to read · focus on foods from 5 food groups · appear on day 5 of each month Tell Us What's New ... What's new with your organization? Submit news to Take 5, call Martha Marino 206-8171466, e-mail [email protected] Deadline for submission is the last day of each month. Subscription Information Take 5 can be sent to you by fax or e-mail on the 5th day of each month. There is no charge. To order or unsubscribe contact: Christa Albice, WSU Puyallup, 253-445-4541. FAX 253-445-4621, e-mail [email protected]). Take 5 is a publication of the Nutrition Education Network of Washington, funded in part by the Food Stamp Program, Food and Nutrition Service, United States Department of Agriculture, and administered by Washington State University. Content of newsletter is up to the discretion of Nutrition Education Network of Washington staff. For more information about the Nutrition Education Network of Washington or to access past issues of this newsletter, see

Information provided by Washington State University Extension's NEN of WA. This material funded in part by USDA-Food Stamp Program, state and local government agencies. Basic Food assistance helps people with low incomes. To find out more, contact your local DSHS-Community Service Office. In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, political beliefs or disability. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250- 9410 or call (800)795-3272 (voice) or (202)720-6382 (TTY). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

November 2007

This Month's Focus: Family Meals

In this issue, Take 5 focuses on the many benefits of eating together, and the tools nutrition educators can use to encourage family meals. We use the term "family" broadly to refer to parents and children, people who live under the same roof or use the same refrigerator, and friends who consider each other close enough to be like family. Turning back the clock to 1996, the Nutrition Education Network at that time Photo source: Food Stamp Program embarked on a social marketing campaign (see information below) to promote family meals to Food Stamp eligible families. The Network conducted focus groups of low income parents and found that they wanted guidance on how to gather their families around the table. They also welcomed advice on what to serve for dinner with their limited resources. One focus group participant said, "When we eat together, we all eat better." Her words became the theme for the Network's campaign called "Eat Better; Eat Together." A decade ago, although it seemed intuitive that family meals might be more nutritious than eating solo, just one significant research study seemed to back that up (Gillman, MW, et al, "Family dinner and diet quality among older children and adolescents." Archives of Family Medicine. 9:235-240. March 2000.) In subsequent years, more researchers have added to the body of evidence that children and teens really do eat better when eating together with their families. Eat Better; Eat Together ­ Over the span of ten years, the Nutrition Education Network of Washington developed a set of useful tools for nutrition educators and child advocates to promote families eating together. Download handouts, tip sheets, and recipes for low-income audiences at (Contact: Sue Butkus, WSU Extension, 253-445-4553 or [email protected]) "Eat Better; Eat Together" magnets and stickers are also available from the Washington State Dairy Council, go to and search for "eat together." Food Stamp Program Photo Gallery ­ Top-notch professional photography of families cooking and eating together, like the photo featured above, can be downloaded for free from the USDA's Food and Nutrition Service. These images can be used by Food Stamp Programs and their partners for nutrition education, promotion, and education, but not for profit. The photos feature other topics, too: farmers markets, physical activity, nutrition education, food purchasing, and more. To view the photos, go to:

Family Meals ­ A World View ­ The frequency of family meals isn't just of interest in the United States, it's also tracked in Europe and other economically advanced countries. When looking at the best measure of family relationships, UNICEF used the marker "percentage of students whose parents eat their main meal with them around a table several times a week." Data were collected for 15-year-olds, with Italy at 93.8% (no surprise), followed by Iceland, France, and Netherlands. The US ranked near the bottom of the list at 22nd of 25 countries. The report analyzed six dimensions to see how well children and teens fare in various countries. These included material well-being, health and safety, education, family and peer relationships, behaviors and risks, and sense of being loved, valued, and included in families and societies into which they were born. Although the US and the UK ranked lowest, most countries have room for improvement. UNICEF's Innocenti Research Centre's Report Card 7, "Child poverty in perspective: An overview of child well-being in rich countries," can be downloaded at Meals in Less than an Hour ­ A new USDA study found that working women spend less than an hour preparing meals each day. That's not just dinner, that's all meals, all day. That figure for "preparing meals" includes not just time fixing or assembling the food, but also serving, clean-up, and storing or putting away food and drinks. The implication for nutrition educators promoting family dinners is to provide quick, easy meal ideas ­ with few pots and pans to wash afterward. Nonworking women spend about 70 minutes a day, women who work part-time spend 53-56 minutes, and full-time working women spend 38-46 minutes a day in these activities. In contrast, the study's authors comment that the time needed to follow recipes in the Thrifty Food Plan ranges from 80 minutes a day to 16 hours a week. Low income households with women who are working full-time may have challenges meeting that plan's requirements in order to feed their families on limited budgets. To read the USDA report "Who has time to cook? How family resources influence food preparation" by Lisa Mancino and Constance Newman (May 2007), go to Family Day ­ A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children ­ Since 2000, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) has promoted the 4th Monday in September as a day for parents and kids to eat dinner together. CASA's focus is on the value of family meals in preventing substance abuse rather than healthy eating, so some of their promotions may leave nutritionists scratching their heads. Since the event generates considerable media attention, nutrition educators can piggy-back on the national visibility of Family Day to promote the nutritional benefits of family dinners as well. It's not too early to plan for next year; some examples you might adapt for use in your communities: . To read more about CASA and its most recent findings about the connection between family dinners and alcohol, illegal drugs, and smoking, go to Eating Together Benefits Seniors, Too ­ When the Dietitians of Canada assembled evidence about recommending eating together for better health, they didn't limit their scope to just kids. They looked at research studies of older adults, and found that shared meals improved their health. Adults without dementia in residential care settings who received family-style meals had better energy and nutrient intake as well as a more stable weight than those who eat alone. Also, adults in congregate meal programs had better diets than those who did not participate. The benefits did not stop with nutrition: because of interaction during meals and access to information about programs geared to their age group, seniors were more likely to participate in recreation and social services. "Practice-Based Evidence in Nutrition" (PEN) available at . (Contact: Martha Marino, 206-817-1466, [email protected]). New Tool Kit about Family Mealtimes ­ School and community leaders can now easily promote family mealtimes in their programs without a whole lot of preparation. A new tool kit, Enriching Family Mealtimes, is designed for teachers, dietitians, extension staff, 4-H and scouting leaders, child nutrition directors, nurses, administrators, and parent group leaders. In the kit are four PowerPoint presentations which could be used at PTA/FTO meetings, school wellness team meetings, professional development, community service organizations (such as Kiwanis and Rotary), and women's organizations. Also included are colorful, easy-to-read handouts, tip sheets, and age-appropriate conversation starter cards. A leader's guide explains ways to use the materials and offers background on the nutritional and social benefits of shared mealtimes. An electronic version of the kit, developed by National Cattlemen's Beef Association, is available at (Contact: Jackie Madill, Washington State Beef Commission, 206-444-2902). European Chefs Promote Eating Together and Cooking for Kids ­ On November 8, more than 4,000 chefs throughout Europe set up their kitchens in schools and invited kids and parents to visit for a simple lunch and talk. The aim of the European Day of Healthy Food and Cooking was to teach simple, tasty meals and to explain why it is important to prepare and share meals with family and friends. The November 8 events were a combined effort of the European Commission's Health and Consumer Protection branch, along with Euro-Toques International, a chef's organization. Kids in all countries were invited to participate in a poster contest with the theme, "What the pleasures of eating well mean to me." A group of Romanian children produced the charming winning poster, To read more about the November 8 celebration go to and to read about events in 17 countries and to put your foreign language skills to use, see

OUR MISSION: The Nutrition Education Network coordinates nutrition education efforts to communicate consistent, positive and relevant messages to increase awareness of healthful and enjoyable eating among low-income families. Take 5 is one way that the Network shares information and resources to accomplish this mission. Please Copy This Newsletter! Feel free to copy any or all of this newsletter to share with others. We only ask that you credit the Nutrition Education Network of Washington and please let us know if you have made copies and to whom you distributed copies. Listing of products and goods in this newsletter does not imply endorsement.


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