Child eating food at the table
Child eating food at the table

Originally written by Anne K. Fishel, Ph.D., and Melinda Morrill, Ph.D., experts with The Family Dinner Project

In the midst of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, many families have been taking stock of how their lives have changed in positive ways. One such silver lining for many families has been an increase in the quality and frequency of family dinners.

New preliminary research conducted by The Family Dinner Project (based at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Psychiatry Academy), in collaboration with Making Caring Common, suggests that family dinners increased for more than 50% of American families during the pandemic, regardless of race, class, educational attainment, and political affiliation. Shared mealtimes increased even more for those who were married or living with a partner and also for those who were employed.

The majority of families also report that during the pandemic their meals were different from pre-pandemic meals in the following ways:


How did COVID-19 change dinner?
  • They felt more connected at dinner
  • They talked more about news and politics
  • They laughed more and expressed gratitude more
  • Children cooked more
  • They had more help from family members with meal preparation
  • They made changes in frequency and quality of dinnertime that they want to hold on to even after the pandemic is over

Read more on The Family Dinner Project:

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At Feed the Children, we feed hungry kids. We envision a world where no child goes to bed hungry. In the U.S. and internationally, we are dedicated to helping families and communities achieve stable lives and to reducing the need for help tomorrow, while providing food and resources to help them today. We distribute product donations from corporate donors to local community partners, we provide support for teachers and students, and we mobilize resources quickly to aid recovery efforts when natural disasters strike. Internationally, we manage child-focused community development programs in 8 countries. We welcome partnerships because we know our work would not be possible without collaborative relationships.

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