by Travis Arnold,
President and Chief Executive Officer

3 minute read

When I was a kid, we ate dinner as a family almost every night. My mother would cook dinner, and she also involved us in meal preparation, like peeling potatoes, mixing meatloaf ingredients and setting the table. We'd sit down at the table, pray, eat and talk about how our day went. It was a simple, yet consistent ritual in our family that ultimately helped to shape our family.

Unfortunately, this isn't the case for many families in Oklahoma today as mealtime is no longer an important habit in the home. Working families often don't have the time to sit down and enjoy a meal due to work schedules and after-school activities, in addition to the distractions of TV watching, video and phone usage. It is hard for single parents to use this time to connect, and harder still for low-income households when parents are juggling multiple jobs or doing other tasks during mealtime, like washing clothes while the children eat.

At Feed the Children, we work to help vulnerable households, many who are single-parent led, these households have difficulty in finding time to sit down at a table together, which means that children and adults don't have the chance to listen to each other, share values and solve problems. We believe this is an issue that we as a community can address by working together to encourage the value of shared family meals.

Research has shown that children who sit down to have dinner as a family are more likely to have a better diet, better mental and emotional health, an improved vocabulary and make better grades. It also offers consistency and structure to our modern chaotic lives.

While we will likely never be able to go back to the days of eating together as a family every night, mealtime provides an easy way to be more involved in our children's lives. Eating meals together is a simple way to be more actively engaged with a child. Whether it's eating a bowl of cereal for breakfast or laughing over a plate of spaghetti, the time spent together over a meal helps us strengthen relationships, develop positive behaviors, create connections and reflect stability and continuity.

I challenge all of us to think about the last time we ate as a family at the table without distractions. Let's try to make the time to sit down and enjoy a meal with our children. I call it, “let's eat, let's talk.” Set a goal of at least one family meal a week. I promise you, the commitment to shared mealtime will have a lasting impact.

If you are able, please take a moment today to make a donation. Any gift, no matter the amount, can be the difference between hunger and hope for a child.

Travis Arnold

Travis Arnold

President and Chief Executive Officer

Travis Arnold was elected to the position of president and CEO of Feed the Children in 2017 after extensive service to the organization in multiple leadership roles. Arnold has a broad and varied background of experience in operations, transportation and executive leadership. Travis joined Feed the Children in 2001 after serving more than 20 years in a variety of management positions with United Parcel Service (UPS).