For over 100 years the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) Cooperative Extension has helped the diverse residents of New Jersey adapt to a rapidly changing society and improve their lives and communities through an educational process that uses science-based knowledge. The Department of Family and Community Health Sciences (FCHS) is the community-based nutrition, health promotion, and family wellness outreach component of Rutgers Cooperative Extension. FCHS provides workshops and online resources across a range of topics to educate and support families, worksites, schools, and communities to create healthier lifestyles. FCHS participates in a number of coalitions on Trenton-wide health initiatives. Areas of interest include helping parents reinforce health education concepts their children are learning and practicing in school, promoting the integration of nutrition education in early childhood care settings, and working on community-wide initiatives like the Community Health Improvement Plan and the “Safe and Healthy” corridor project.
Additionally, FCHS is developing a signature program on family meals. What is needed for the department to create a distinctive and impactful program to increase the frequency and healthfulness of family meals? Where is there the most opportunity? What are the most effective educational delivery methods? A literature search has been done that can be shared. The next step would be to digest this research in order to generate ideas and frame a pilot intervention that could teach families about the value of a positive mealtime environment and how to achieve it.