Research About The Kids Cook Monday
Learning about food at a young age helps children consider the portions, and understand the nutrients in what they’re eating, which can lead to healthier lifestyles.
Getting families together to cook every Monday is a simple action that can lead to healthier outcomes. Monday can also function as a weekly cue to remind everyone in the family to refresh their commitment to their health. Considering the health and behavior benefits for children and adolescents, the American College of Pediatricians encourages “parents to make every effort to regularly gather around the ‘Family Table’ for meals.”1 Eating meals together, as noted by the Family Dinner Project is “good for the spirit, the brain and the health of all family members.”2 By integrating the Monday concept into coordinating family dinners, a weekly reminder gets built into the schedule. Monday is also an opportunity to refresh a commitment to healthy eating if good food choices weren’t maintained over the weekend. Research shows that kids “who share family meals 3 or more times per week are more likely to be in a normal weight range and have healthier dietary and eating patterns.”3
According to a nationally representative survey, 73 percent of respondents with children in their household said they would be interested in a program that encourages families to set aside the first night of every week for cooking and eating together as a family. And 62 percent of all respondents said that they would be interested to try a Meatless Monday by cooking at home.4
The Center for Food & Environment at Teachers College Columbia University and the Harlem Health Promotion teamed up with The Kids Cook Monday initiative to launch The Kids Cook Monday Pilot– a weekly community cooking class for a selected group of families in Harlem in New York City. At the program’s conclusion, 55 percent of parents planned to cook them again at home. Parents also trusted their kids more in the kitchen after participating, and 73 percent of kids surveyed said they wanted to be involved in their family’s future meal preparations.
Evidence from other studies also links family dinners to healthier life choices:
- Parents that involve their kids in meal preparation can increase their consumption of vegetables.5
- National surveys of parents and teens, as reported by the Center on Addiction, suggest that kids who eat family dinners have better relationships with their parents and have a decreased risk of smoking, drinking or using other drugs.6
- A meta-analysis in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics found that frequency of family meals is significantly related to nutritional health in children and adolescents. Some benefits include a reduction in the odds of children becoming overweight and a reduction in eating unhealthy foods.7
- Findings from a study in the journal Preventive Medicine found that family meals can contribute to the social and emotional wellbeing of parents.8
The Kids Cook Monday initiative encourages families to set aside the first night of every week for cooking and eating together.
For more tips and resources to promote The Kids Cook Monday, visit our Resources page.
For more information about how a Monday cue can support behavior change, visit The Monday Campaigns Research page.
 Anderson, J. and Trumbull, D. 2014. The Benefits of the Family Table. American College of Pediatricians. May. https://www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/parenting-issues/the-benefits-of-the-family-table
 Fishel, A. FAQ. The Family Dinner Project. https://thefamilydinnerproject.org/resources/faq/
 Hammons, A.J. and Fiese, B.H. 2011. Is Frequency of Shared Family Meals Related to the Nutritional Health of Children and Adolescents? Pediatrics. 2011 Jun; 127(6): e1565–e1574. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3387875/
 Data Decisions Group. 2019. Nationally representative survey of 1000 adult Americans.
 van der Horst, K., Ferrage, A., Rytz, A. 2014. Involving children in meal preparation. Effects on food intake. Appetite. Volume 79, 1 August 2014, Pages 18-24. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0195666314001573
 The Importance of Family Dinners VIII. 2012. Center on Addiction. https://www.centeronaddiction.org/addiction-research/reports/importance-of-family-dinners-2012
 Hammons and Fiese. 2011. Is Frequency of Shared Family Meals Related to the Nutritional Health of Children and Adolescents? Pediatrics. 2011 Jun; 127(6): e1565–e1574. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3387875/?report=classic
 Utter et al. 2018. Family meals among parents: Associations with nutritional, social and emotional wellbeing. Prev Med. 2018 Aug;113:7-12. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2018.05.006. Epub 2018 May 7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29746973