Mid-Plains Community College is encouraging families to dine in Saturday in honor of Family and Consumer Sciences Day.
The day is observed every year by the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) in honor of Ellen Richards, the founder of the home economics movement, whose birthday was Dec. 3.
The organization claims families experience better nutrition, improved communication, the development of new traditions and the implementation of life skills, such as meal planning, budgeting and food preparation by dining in.
"Eating together is a very ordinary thing that builds extraordinary families when done on a regular basis," said Tyler Esch, MPCC family and consumer sciences instructor. "Meals at home are generally less expensive, with greater variety and nutrition than those eaten out."
The AAFCS chose its "Dining In for Healthy Families" theme for Family and Consumer Sciences Day because of a nationwide obesity epidemic blamed in part on unhealthy eating habits and a lack of food preparation knowledge.
Encouraging families to prepare simple, healthy meals and eat together supports the essence of family and consumer sciences.
"The table is where families share their days - celebrating the joys and easing the sorrows," said Esch. "It's the one place where they can turn off the rest of the world and focus on the people in front of them."
More than 125,000 people committed to preparing and eating a healthy meal together last year on Dec 3. The AAFCS estimates that number will grow to 200,000 this year.
Families can pledge to dine in on the aafcs.org website. By filling out a simple sign-up form, they become eligible for weekly prize drawings.
"I have a quote on my wall that reads, 'The best memories are made when gathered around the table," said Esch. "I really believe that and hope everyone makes eating together a priority on Saturday and throughout the year."
On a side note:
Ellen Richards, who was born in 1842 and died in 1911, was the first woman admitted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
She was an industrial and environmental chemist and a pioneer in the field of sanitary engineering and experimental research in domestic science. She encouraged the application of science to the home and was the first to apply chemistry to the study of nutrition.