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Jim Robson, left, and his wife, Emily, right, with sons, Robert, bottom right, and Alex, typically eat togeth-er every night. Discussion of their day is the topic of conversation. photo by Renee Landuyt.

October 25, 2012
Grab a 'burger here or a slice of pizza there. Families are losing contact with each other. Schedules are so packed with commitments there is no time to sit down together and share meal time.

The need to sit down and connect as a family was not lost on Jackie Kalogerakos of Grosse Pointe Farms. She expe-rienced it as the mother of three active children and while running a day care in Detroit and as a Montessori teacher.

"I saw how beleaguered those families are. I watched families getting McDonald's in the back-seat. People don't sit down to dinner," she said

And that is a shame, and a detriment to families, said Anne Nearhood, CARE of Southeastern Michigan Community Organizer Specialist/Special Project Coordinator."

A family is continually pulled in many directions during meal time," she said.St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Beaumont Community Health Coalition are addressing this commu-nity need by offering a free family dinner once a month. This is followed by time to play board games together.

"We (the church's social action committee) were trying to come up with something in church to address a need in the community," said Kalogerakos, a St. Paul member. "I said let's see about doing a family dinner. This is only to service the community. That's what we should do as Christians."Nearhood and Suzie Berschback, Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe manager, Community Affairs and Advocacy, were immediately on board with the idea.

Actually, Nearhood said, she and Berschback had been discussing implementing a national campaign entitled Family Day, A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children.

The three friends couldn't be happier at the prospect of bringing families together.

The first free dinner was Oct. 24 at St. Paul's in Grosse Pointe Farms."Beaumont Grosse Pointe is thrilled to be a part of an event that will help to bring families together for a night of fun," Berschback said. "We will have health information there to share from all of our community health coalition partners, too. We know that just by having more family dinners together we can reduce drug and alcohol use in teens and create better health in the community."

According to The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University study, the benefits of family dinners five to seven times a week include:

◆Everyone eats health-ier meals;

◆Children are less like-ly to become overweight;

◆Children are more likely to stay away from cigarettes;

◆Children are less like-ly to drink alcohol;

◆Children won't likely try marijuana;

◆They're less likely to use illicit drugs;

◆Friends won't likely abuse prescription drugs;

◆School grades will be better;

◆Parents and children talk more;

◆There is more likeli-hood of learning about a serious problem;

◆Children will feel like parents are proud of them;

◆There is less stress and tension at home.

With three school-aged children, Beth Vernon of the City of Grosse Pointe knows how hard it is for the family to gather to eat the evening meal. Between her two sons' football practices, her daughter's soccer prac-tices and her attorney-husband's schedule, they are the typical busy fam-

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