What Effect Did Family Dinners Have During COVID?


When people throughout the world experienced the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated shutdowns, the well-known expression “a family that eats together, stays together” was flipped for many families. The family that stayed together, ate together was a common occurrence as people experienced various levels of stay-in-place mandates. Most individuals and families were no longer rushing from one activity to the next, grabbing a quick fast-food meal on the way, or even working long shifts outside the home. With less intense schedules, many families were sharing an increased number of meals at home together. Multiple studies conducted over the past twenty years, including several by leading family meals scholar Barbara Fiese, have found that families who eat meals together several times a week are positively impacted physically, emotionally, relationally, and mentally. In particular, a long list of benefits is attributed to children and teens: including better academic performance, higher self-esteem, a greater sense of resilience, lower risk of substance abuse, lower risk of depression, and lower rates of obesity (e.g., Armstrong-Carter & Telzer, 2020Fiese et al., 2012). The positive influences of regular family dinners are diverse and significant. Did the previously known benefits of family meals apply to families living through the stress and negative aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic? Read More