Time spent together over a meal is something that strengthens relationships, develops positive behaviors, creates connections and provides stability for our kids.
In many situations for adults, the lack of a consistent mealtime stems from an inability to provide food for the table. In the United States alone, more than 15 million households face not having enough food for every member of the family.
One of our key tasks at Feed the Children is to change this unsettling statistic by reaching struggling families across America with food and other essentials that offer hope for a better future. Adverse childhood experiences, including lack of food and parental connection, can stunt the growth of our children and create a cycle that affects multiple generations. We all must work together to break the cycle of poverty and give our kids a brighter tomorrow.
Feed the Children exists to end childhood hunger. It’s the cause upon which we were founded more than 40 years ago and the one that we continue to fight for every day. We are taking a stand, and we will not rest until every child has enough to eat.
We can help feed the body, but it is up to parents and caregivers to feed the soul. Taking time to sit down with your children and share a meal around the dinner table, without any outside distractions, is important to their growth.
Many families no longer know the joy of sharing a meal together. As single parents, foster parents, grandparents or guardians are leading more households, dinnertime as a family has become a luxury. Even rarer is the presence of a father or father figure at many of these family meals. Having a father or father figure in the home regularly for meals offers consistency and structure to the lives of children.
As we have recently celebrated Father’s Day, it is the perfect time to be present and create meaningful connections with our kids. Mealtime is one of the most natural times for us as fathers to connect with our children. Whether it is breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack, sharing food and laughter with our children can become a memory they will cherish forever.
Use these mealtimes to find out how your child’s day was, what their favorite animal is and why, or just what’s new in their life. Being able to share all of this with a father will give children confidence and provide an example of how they should parent their children later on in life.
I encourage you to use not only Father’s Day, but also every day of the year to grow closer with the children in your life. Show them the value of both being and having a father or father figure involved in their life. Use mealtime as a time to provide not only physical sustenance but also a personal and emotional connection.
Travis Arnold serves as president and CEO of Feed the Children, an international organization that fights to end childhood hunger and provide hope and resources for those without life’s essentials. One of its many distribution centers is based in La Vergne.