Family-style dining is most common in the home, child care settings, and restaurants. So, what is family-style dining? Some common practices in family-style dining include:

Children benefit from family-style meals. It helps with the development of gross and fine motor skills, language, social skills, and cognitive skills. Additionally, they learn healthy eating habits from watching their caretakers and peers eat the same foods. Sarah Boese, Sanford CHILD Services Food Program Educator, speaks highly of family-style dining. "My favorite part about family style dining is that children of all ages are able to participate and learn from the experience. Smaller children may need some meal components plated for them, but they are still able to learn from the older children's modeled behavior."

Whether you are looking to reduce the spread of germs or wanting to follow precautions due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, there are things you can do to implement family-style dining in your environment. Here are some tips:

"Getting children involved is such a good way to teach them about nutrition. Allowing children to help shop at the grocery store and help prepare meals gives them life skills that teach the importance of balanced and healthy meals. Teaching young children how to make healthy choices is a key building block to ensure they have a healthy lifestyle in the future." – Sarah Boese

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