Home cooked family meals are gradually disappearing from the American experience. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), American families spent 48.7 percent of their food budget eating away from home in 2011, dwarfing the 26.8 percent spent by families only fifty years earlier. Each dollar shifted from food eaten at the dinner table to food eaten on-the-go comes with serious consequences. Eating out more frequently is associated with higher rates of obesity, higher BMIs, and higher concentrations of fat and sugar in higher calorie meals. Significant investment must be made in keeping families healthy, as one in three children in the United States today is either overweight or obese and over one-third of American adults are obese.,
Leading the way toward a healthy family unit, Colorado’s Food, Faith & Family commits to improve the number and quality of home cooked meals. To achieve this end, Food, Faith & Family and Mile Hi Church will implement its “ONE Table” program, which aims to increase awareness and use of local seasonal whole foods. At the helm of the project, community outreach director Beth Oden ensures that there truly is a seat for everyone at One Table, engaging the entire family in the process of planning, shopping, cooking and sharing meals at the family table. Hosting two-hour monthly workshops at the Mile Hi Church in Denver, Colorado, Food, Faith & Family incorporates the entire family into its program. Each gathering consists of a ninety minute parent education session while kids cook and chat with local farmers who donated the food they prepare. With a different theme each month, kids learn new cooking techniques and discover healthy eating habits through an innovative “food detective” game, preparing them for their role in upcoming family meals. To culminate each month’s event, participating families gather and eat their freshly cooked meal together. With the help of the “Renegade Lunch Lady,” Chef Ann Cooper, Food, Faith & Family will strengthen family ties and foster healthy eating habits for the whole family. Further embracing the spirit of collaboration, Food, Faith & Family partnered with The Kitchen Community to launch its Rock the Garden program, hosting monthly family picnics in Mile Hi’s beautiful vegetable, herb, and flower filled garden. Rock the Garden focuses on teaching the entire family how to incorporate healthy gardening techniques in their own home.
Given mounting evidence showing that children raised in families who eat together eat healthier, communicate more, are less likely to drink alcohol and abuse illicit and prescription drugs, and perform better in school, Food, Faith & Family commits to enroll 50 families in its program’s first 12 months and reach all of Mile Hi Church’s 11,000 members through extensive media campaigns. Through its efforts, Food, Faith & Family will increase:
- The number of home cooked family meals
- Healthy cooking and gardening skills for families
- Nutritional knowledge for all program participants
- Sustainable family meal traditions to be enjoyed for years to come
 "Table 10- Food Away From Home as a Share of Food Expenditures." USDA ERS - Food Expenditures. USDA Economic Research Service, n.d. Web.
 Lichtenstein, Alice. "Research Review: Effects of Eating Out on Nutrition and Body Weight." Center for Science in the Public Interest, n.d. Web.
 "Childhood Obesity Facts." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 July 2013. Web
 "Adult Obesity Facts." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 Aug. 2012. Web.