September 23 2020 Latest news:
Come Together, Eat Together
Nearly half of families across Cornwall are no longer eating together at least once a day, according to new research.
Work pressures, hectic lifestyles and TV are blamed for families eating together less often, the study found. 45 per cent of Cornish households do not currently share a meal every day, but 88 per cent of parents admit their children would have better manners if families sat down together to enjoy traditional British mealtimes.
1,354 people from across the UK, including 165 from Cornwall, were questioned for the survey* which was commissioned by Truro-based rural insurance firm Cornish Mutual. It found 44 per cent admit to eating TV dinners two or three times a week, while one in four do it most days of the week.
Among the findings, two thirds of families (66%) think that television is destroying the art of conversation and that children are more interested in watching TV or playing computer games than spending time enjoying a meal with their parents.
Only a third of people in Cornwall said their meal time experience is perfect. Almost half of respondents believe that the Government has an important role to play in promoting family values, with this belief held higher by low-income families.
More than a quarter of people wish their family made more of an effort to eat together and nearly one in ten does not have a functional kitchen or is not satisfied with the dining arrangements for their family.
People living in Cornwall appear to have homes that are less suited to preparing and eating family meals; possibly due in part to their size and design. Cornish households are also less likely to have a separate dining area than their counterparts in Devon, Somerset and Dorset.
The survey was conducted to determine eating and dining habits and investigate whether traditional patterns and values associated with families eating together have changed.
However, one in four people believe that having the time to sit down together would improve their mealtime experience and nearly a third said more sociable work hours would help.
Encouragingly, 69 per cent of people value the time spent eating together as a family to catch up and talk about their day. Nearly all those who responded (97%) agreed that eating together helped families to communicate and could strengthen relationships.
As a result of the research, today a new campaign called Come Together, Eat Together, aimed at encouraging families to share a meal together at least once a week is being launched by well-known TV presenter Anthea Turner.
Come Together, Eat Together, supported by Cornish Mutual, is aimed at re-capturing enthusiasm for home cooking and enjoying eating together as a family.
Alan Goddard, Managing Director of Cornish Mutual, commented: We are quite shocked and surprised by the findings of this research. Its clear that the demands of modern life are having a real effect on families and the amount of time they spend eating together. I think its a sad reflection that time and traditions are changing. Many more people remember their families eating together every day when they were a child, but its no longer happening in the same way with their own families.
Mr Goddard added: We hope that this new campaign will help redress the balance and highlight the issue so that families will start coming together to eat at least once a week as a direct result. Tradition is important and eating together plays a valuable role in strengthening family relationships and improving trust and communication.
TV presenter Anthea Turner said: I think that Come Together, Eat Together is a really fantastic way of getting families back around the table and sharing a meal at least once a week. Its true that we all have much busier lives these days and we spend a lot of time rushing around, but it doesnt mean that we have to sit in front of the TV not talking to each other while were eating.
Family mealtimes are an ideal time and opportunity to share experiences, news and generally catch-up on whats been happening throughout the day. Its not about being the perfect wife or mother, but I do try and spend some quality time together with my husband Grant and my three step daughters Lily, Amelia and Claudia, as much as I can.
Dr Clare Pettinger, registered dietician and expert in public health nutrition at the University of Plymouth added: This research corroborates other similar research findings in the area of family eating patterns, illustrating stark social and cultural changes in the UK which have led to the decline of traditional family mealtimes and eating together as a household. Eating together as a family can be seen as a health promoting activity. The family meal promotes healthy eating habits, which, from the early years, are laid down for life; nutritional intake in children correlates strongly with long-term health.
This new campaign will provide an ideal opportunity to get families to think about their eating behaviours and encourage them to revise the social aspect of eating together. In this way an attempt can be made to re-define our food culture and promote a badly needed reconnection with food.
As well as encouraging families to eat together more often, the campaign is keen to preserve traditional family recipes and ideas for home cooking.
An appeal is being launched today for people to come forward with their own favourite family recipes and upload them to a specially created website http://www.eattogether.co.uk/. Once all the recipes are received by the end of March, the best ones will be chosen for a charity cookbook to raise money for the Cornwall Air Ambulance.
For more information about the Come Together, Eat Together campaign, full findings and a report on the research and to upload a favourite family recipe for the charity cookbook, visit http://www.eattogether.co.uk/