Campaign calls family to dinner

By Ryn Gargulinski@link.freedom.com

The Evans family is an anomaly. Not because of their location — they live between San Jon and Logan — but because they said they regularly sit down and eat together.

This puts them in the minority of only one-third of families across the nation who dine as a unit on a regular basis.

To increase those statistics, several Quay organizations are kicking off a month-long campaign called Back to the Table.

The Back to the Table campaign starts today and runs through the end of October. Its aim is to provide tips and tricks for getting families to dine en masse as well as ideas for simple yet nutritious meals, said Brenda Bishop, home economist of the Quay County Extension Office.

Supported by the Nutrition and Fitness Committee of the Quay County Maternal, Child, and Community Health (MCCH) Council; the Quay County Health Office, and the Quay County Extension Service, October’s Back to the Table campaign hopes to help right some societal wrongs.

Really.

MCCH officials said studies show that kids who eat most meals with their families get better grades, have a closer circle of pals, develop communication and social skills, eat healthier, are less insecure and are less likely to indulge in risky behavior or do drugs.

All this from a communal cup of soup.

“We talk about current events,” said Morisa Evans when asked of mealtime conversations. “One of my kids is in junior high so we get to hear the gossip that way,” said the mother of three who range in age from 2 to 13 years old. She said the two oldest even help with chopping vegetables if there are a lot of them. If the TV is on, which it often is, she said they still converse and it serves only as background noise.

The Evans even take it a step further — when Dad is out on the tractor tending to their wheat fields and he can’t come to the table, Evans said she and the kids take the meal out to him.

“At the very least we’ll take sodas out to Dad and hang out with him,” she said. Although Morisa Evans said she did not grow up with a family that regularly shared meals, she and her husband Tommy Evans decided to make it a priority early on.
Besides, the kids enjoy it, Morisa Evans said, even if it’s for a different reason than to converse and bond.

“I like it,” said 10-year-old Matthew Evans, “because we get to eat.”

On the other extreme, 18-year-old Antonio Vasquez said he never eats with his family and just grabs something from the fridge.

“I just eat whatever’s in the house whenever I’m hungry,” Vasquez said, adding he pretty much stopped eating with his family when he was 15. To go against the statistics that say kids who don’t eat with their family may be less well-adjusted, Vasquez just so happened to be recently chosen by Tucumcari High School as a student of the week.

Nevertheless, the Back to the Table campaign is up and running.

To get the word out, the Quay organizations behind it said brochures and newsletters around the county will publish information and notices will be posted on bulletin boards, as well as relayed through backpack stuffers, community presentations, radio and Web pages.

For information, a presentation or brochures, call Bishop at 461-0562.
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Ways to get your family to the table:

Be creative and flexible about when and where you eat; make a picnic in
the park.
Make mealtime fun for everyone.
Serve a variety of food so that even picky eaters will have something they like to eat.
Keep meals simple and easy.
Involve all family members.
Eliminate interruptions and distractions (don’t read the paper; shut off the TV.)
If dinners don’t work, schedule Saturday breakfast or Sunday lunch.
Write family mealtimes on the calendar.

Source: Quay County MCCH Council