Sitting down together at the family dinner table might seem hard to manage with the busy lives people lead these days. However, a family meal helps create an environment where parents and children can have a conversation. And that family interaction is an important factor to protect children from the dangers of smoking, drinking and drugs.
This month, the Hays office of the Cottonwood Extension District is teaming up with Papa Murphy’s and the Hays Kiwanis Club to offer a make-and-take pizza activity to encourage families to cook and eat together. Families with young children will have the opportunity to make a pizza from provided ingredients and take home a low-cost meal to bake and enjoy together.
Family Pizza Make and Take Night will be from 4:15 to 6:15 p.m. Sept. 25 at the Extension Office meeting room, 601 Main in Hays. (Enter the rear door from the north parking lot.) The cost is only $2.50 per pizza, with a limit of two pizzas per family. Quantities are limited, so registration is accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Register and pay fees at the Extension Office, (785) 628-9430. This is an event for parents with their young children. Registration is considered complete when fees are paid.
Papa Murphy’s will donate pizza crusts for the make-and-take event and toppings are supported by funding from the Hays Kiwanis Club and Cottonwood Extension District. We’ll also provide a bag of baby carrots and a few pieces of fruit to balance your healthy family meal.
2017 marks the 10th year of this popular event. In celebration of the 10th anniversary, all participating families will receive a free gift to further enhance family time.
Volunteers are welcome to assist with the event. Call the Extension Office if you would like to help during one or both shifts: 4 to 5:15 p.m. and 5:15 to 6:30 p.m.
The goal of Family Pizza Make and Take Night is to create awareness that regular conversations between parents and children are an important prevention tool to help safeguard Kansas youth and that family meals are an important way to regularly engage in those conversations.
Parental influence is known to be one of the most crucial factors in determining the likelihood of substance abuse by teenagers. Research done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse consistently finds that the more often children eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs. The statistics reveal teens who almost always eat dinner with their families are 31 percent less likely than the average teenager to smoke, drink or use drugs, while teens who virtually never eat dinner with their families are 72 percent more likely than the average teenager to use illegal drugs, alcohol and cigarettes.
Kids like to eat dinner with their families, too. When a recent survey asked teens about family meals, 84 percent said they prefer to have dinner with their families than to eat alone.
Additionally, research shows children who eat dinner often with their families are more likely to be emotionally content, do well in school, have positive peer relationships, have lower levels of stress and be bored less often. What amazing benefits from something as simple as a family meal.
This month, parents and their young children are invited to make and take a pizza together Sept. 25 and think of ways to schedule more family time to talk about what’s going on in your child’s world. After all, what your kids really want at the dinner table is you.
Linda K. Beech is Cottonwood District Extension agent for family and consumer sciences.