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WVU Extension encourages families to check out and "dine in" on national Dining-In Day

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On Saturday, Dec. 3, West Virginia University Extension Service specialists are challenging West Virginia families to “check out” of technology and focus on conversation around the dinner table in celebration of national Family and Consumer Sciences Day.

According to WVU Extension Health Promotions Specialist Elaine Bowen, who is spearheading the initiative among families in West Virginia, unplugging from technology and recharging conversation into meals can help families to better connect and communicate.

“We’re really encouraging people to tuck away the phones and tablets, prepare a healthy, home-cooked meal with family or friends and then sit down to enjoy it,” Bowen said. “Research shows that making family mealtime a priority is not only a useful family-bonding tool, but it is also vital to children’s physical, emotional and mental well-being and development.”

Participants can sign up online at bit.ly/DineIn2017. Last year, more than 125,000 families nationwide committed to dining in during the celebration, which is sponsored by the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.

“It’s not so much about the meal, it’s about the quality family time centered around the meal,” Bowen said. “Many studies show a link between children who eat regularly with families having better nutrition, school performance and communication skills.”

Bowen notes that frequent, shared family mealtimes are also related to a decreased risk of substance abuse in children and teens.

“Youths who eat with their families are statistically less likely to try cigarettes, marijuana or alcohol and earn better grades in school,” Bowen said.

Participants are encouraged to join the online conversation and share how they are celebrating the day by tagging #FCSDay on social media, and by connecting with the AAFCS on Facebook at facebook.com/AAFCSheadquarters and Twitter @AAFCS.

The annual event shares the mission of WVU Extension’s Strong Families Eat Together program, which encourages families to partake in regular mealtimes in order to strengthen family bonds and overall health. Resources for the program can be found at fh.ext.wvu.edu/strong_families.

The WVU Extension Service is a primary outreach division of West Virginia University. With offices in each of the state’s 55 counties, Extension faculty and staff develop and deliver
programs in leadership, rural and community-based economic development, youth development, workforce development and health education.

For more information on health and wellness initiatives in your community, contact your local county office of the WVU Extension Service or visit ext.wvu.edu. For additional information about Family and Consumer Sciences Dining-In Day, visit www.aafcs.org/fcsday/.