Celebrate World Food Day connecting with your family at mealtime

Canadian children's views of their own lives have worsened over the past decade; Making Meals Meaningful program helps Canadian parents strengthen relationships with children


TORONTO, Oct. 16, 2013 /CNW/ - Finding time to connect as a family can be challenging with demanding schedules, long commutes and social media playing a prominent role in people's lives.  October 16th is World Food Day and Canadian families are encouraged to get together at mealtime to talk about their day and the important issues facing children.

According to a global report released by UNICEF, Report Card 11, Canadian children rank in the middle for well-being when compared to other industrialized countries (17th of 29 countries measured) with particular concerns related to bullying and unhealthy lifestyles. As well, Canadian children's views of their own lives have worsened over the past decade and many don't have a positive view of the quality of their close relationships with their peers and parents.

Making Meals Meaningful, a program developed in partnership with UNICEF Canada and Dr. Karyn Gordon and sponsored by Maple Leaf Foods and Maple Leaf Prime®, connects families during mealtimes using themed conversation starter cards that parents can use to have engaging, thoughtful conversations with their children about real, hard-to-discuss issues including bullying, social media, peer pressure, and drugs and alcohol.

"Children have a lot to cope with on a daily basis, and as parents, it's not always easy to get our children to open up about important issues that can significantly impact their overall well-being," said Dr. Karyn Gordon, a leading North American relationship and parenting expert for families and organizations. "The new Making Meals Meaningful conversation starter cards that we developed with UNICEF Canada, a well-trusted and experienced child-focused organization, helps parents talk to their families about the daily pressures children are facing today and keep families in touch with what's going on in each other's lives."

"Families, children specifically, are facing social pressures like never before," said Pam Kellogg, Senior Marketing Director, Maple Leaf Prime®. "Maple Leaf Prime has a long history of helping families put nutritious meals on their tables, so we're proud to play a role in bringing families closer together through meaningful conversations."

The Making Meals Meaningful program provides tips, tools and recipes that parents can use to engage their families in meaningful conversations and develop deeper relationships with their children while preparing and sharing meals together. A new deck of conversation starter cards are now available online at makingmealsmeaningful.ca.  A PDF version of the cards can be downloaded for free, and for a limited time, a printed deck of cards is available for a small donation. Proceeds will help UNICEF purchase critical, life-saving food supplies for children around the world.

"Improving the well-being of children all over the world is very important to UNICEF," says Sharon Avery, Chief Development Officer, UNICEF Canada. "Through the Making Meals Meaningful program, we are supporting families to do something simple that is proven to improve relationships and child well-being: share at least a few mealtimes together each week."

EDITORS NOTE: Please join Dr. Karyn Gordon and Maple Leaf Prime® Chef Bob Villeneuve for a Twitter Party on October 16 from 8 pm - 9 pm to talk about the Making Meals Meaningful program and to answer your questions. Join the party by following @MapleLeafFoods, @MapleLeafPrime, @UNICEFLive and using the hashtag #meaningfulmeals.

About Dr. Karyn Gordon
Dr. Karyn Gordon is a leading North American relationship / parenting expert and her mission is to inspire people to develop exceptional relationships with themselves and others. For 15 years she has provided her expertise through national media.  She is a regular expert for the USA's #1 morning show Good Morning America (ABC), Canada's #1 talk-show Cityline (City) and Toronto's #1 morning show Breakfast Television (City). Along with her busy speaking schedule and regular media appearances, Dr. Karyn has maintained her thriving consulting practice for families for the last 15 years called dk Leadership in Toronto and New York City to serve organizations and families.  She has also authored four practical resources for teens and parents. Her latest book (published by Harper Collins) is called Dr. Karyn's Guide to the Teen Years.

Dr. Karyn has a Bachelor in Psychology, a Masters in Counseling and a Doctorate in Marriage and Family. She has also done extensive studies in organizational systems, personality and generational differences and leadership in the workplace.

UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive.

About Maple Leaf Foods
Maple Leaf Foods Inc. is a leading food company headquartered in Toronto, Canada. The Company employs approximately 19,500 people at its operations across Canada and in the United States, the United Kingdom and Asia. The Company had sales of $4.9 billion in 2012.

About Maple Leaf Prime® Naturally
Maple Leaf Prime® Naturally is Canada's leading brand of poultry and is dedicated to making dinner at home the best part of the day for Canadian families through a wide offering of delicious, healthy and convenient fresh, frozen and ready-to-eat meal ingredients and meals.  Maple Leaf Prime® Naturally is a Canadian brand and that's part of the Maple Leaf Foods Inc. family.

SOURCE: Maple Leaf Foods Inc.

For further information:

Dave Bauer/ Sylvia Sicuso
Maple Leaf Foods

Genevive Savundranayagam
416.482.6552, ext.: 8801


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