Many families find it hard to schedule mealtimes when family members eat together. It may seem that getting everyone to choose and eat healthful food is enough. Lessons children learn by eating with family members are important too.

“Eat Together PA” is a campaign of The Pennsylvania Nutrition Education Network (PA NEN). The nearly 1500 member organization receives USDA funds through the PA Department of Human Services. PA NEN offers nutrition resources, fact sheets, budgeting information, recipes, cooking tips and more. PA NEN members include dietitians, public health professionals, educators, chefs, food service directors, child care providers, WIC counselors, and many others.

The PA NEN website includes information about why eating together matters. Look there for practical tips about how to start having better family breakfasts and dinners together. The PA NEN website offers these tips:
  Children learn from watching you: Smile when you eat your fruits and vegetables. You may not know it, but your child is looking at the foods you eat and how much you like to eat them. Choose healthy, and they will eat like you!
  Make time to talk: Dinner is time for every-one to talk—a chance to chat positively, yet honestly—even if you don’t have all the answers!
  Have technology-free time: Silence all the cell phones. Turn off the computer, tab-lets and TV. Many people spend a big part of their day watching screen devices. Schedule some of this time to share a meal and a pleasant conversation.
  Make mealtime a family experience: Cook family favorites, share a meal, shop with a family member for food, and share the work of cleaning up after a meal. Everyone can help!
  Give children a chance to choose: Let them decide which vegetable to include with some meals. They will want to eat the foods they picked.
  Make the healthy choice, the easy choice: Have fruits and vegetables washed, cut and handy for snacks.
  Enjoy each other while enjoying meals: Eating meals together helps to strength-en relationships with one another.

How to Start
  Ease into it: Try setting a goal of eating to-gether once or twice a week.
  Start simple: You can always prepare an easy breakfast recipe like oatmeal. Even pre-pare the meal ahead of time. Just store it in the refigerator until it’s time to reheat and eat it.
  Create calm: Phones, TV, computer, video games and even the radio can interrupt your meal. Turn all or them off to help everyone relax.
  Get everyone involved: Make a list of tasks and let family members choose which they will do. Ideas include: shopping, choosing a healthful food for breakfast or dinner, setting or clearing the table and/or making the meal.
  Relax and connect: Agree to talk about problems at a time other than mealtime.

Adapted from website, part of USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Published 10/5/15 at
Editor: Susan S. Aronson, MD, FAAP. Contact ECELS at: 484-446-3003 or 800-24-ECELS; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; PA AAP, Rose Tree Corporate Center, Bldg II, Suite 3007,1400 N. Providence Road, Media, PA 19063.

The attached ECELS Health and Safety Checklist includes references. It was updated December 2011 as Version 1.4. This tool guides the user to the appropriate national health and safety standard(s) and other related references for each item. Each item is cross-referenced with corresponding topics from: Caring for Our Children:  National Health and Safety Performance Standards, 3rd Edition, 2011 (CFOC) , the Environmental Rating Scales (ITERS-R, Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale - Revised Edition; ECERS-R, Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale - Revised Edition); and the Pennsylvania Child Care Facility Licensing Regulations. Reviewed and reaffirmed 6/2018.

  • Napping in Child Care Facilities
  • Indoor Air Pollution
  • Obese Preschoolers
  • Fluoride Varnish
  • Isolating Ill Children?
  • Seasonal and H1N1 Influenza Update
  • Spring 2009 Professional Development for Child Care Health Consultants
  • Honoring CCHC Janice Maker
  • Free Kit—Activities, Games & More: Go Out and Play!
  • Organic Foods: Are They Better?
  •  IOM ‘Weighs In’ About Sleep and Obesity
  •  New Online Self-Learning Module—Common Illnesses
  • Social Emotional Development
  •  Pediatricians & Early Educators Share Developmental Screening
  • TICKS Spread Disease
  •  BATS!! - A Health Policy Test


  • Influenza Vaccine for 2015-2016
  • Screen Time, Child Development and Nutrition
  • Organic Food – Is It Healthier?
  • Background Music and Noise Interferes with Language Learning?
  • Oral Health Screening Added to Routine Well-Child Visit Schedule
  • National Center on Health—Materials All Early Educators Can Use
  • Increasing Physical Activity in Afterschool Programs
  • Three Newly Revised and a List of All ECELS Self-Learning Modules
  • Eating Together - Mealtime Matters

Home-based child care staff can use this module to inspect their homes for hazards. The module uses a checklist derived from Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards and FCCERS-R criteria. For professional development credit, PA early care and education staff should download and follow the instructions using the materials for the module in the file below this description.  Complete and submit plans for improvement for any hazards found. Submit completed work for review for credit by scanning the pages and attaching them to an e-mail, sending them by fax or by surface mail to ECELS. The module may also be complete online at
Be sure to follow the instructions in the “Important Reminders” box next to the list of self-learning modules on this webpage. Instructions updated 3/2017.(FCCERS-R, K7.1 C1, K7.7 C1, K7.8 C1, K7.8 C2) Revised 3/2017.

Assess your program’s physical activity and nutrition policies and practices for infants through children age 5. Use the Let's Move Child Care resources and the Nutrition and Physical Activity Self- Assessment for Child Care (Go NAP SACC).  Based on your assessment, develop an action plan to make improvements.   Also, this module addresses infant feeding and screen time.  By using this module you will learn about new resources, parent engagement strategies and policy development.  We suggest writing your answers on the Assessment and Implementation Question document before entering your responses in Survey Monkey.  Be sure to follow the instructions in the “Important Reminders” box next to the list of self-learning modules on this webpage. (ECERS-ITERS:  Personal Care Routines, Space and Furnishings, Activities, Interaction.  (K7-C2-84 or K8-C3-96) 6/2017

Learn the basics of food allergy and allergen types in foods and how to prevent a food allergy response.  Use forms, guides, and links to online videos and other materials.  Practice reading food labels to find hidden ingredients that are the same as common food allergens.  Describe how to modify the early learning and school age program for a child with a food allergy and plan for handling a food allergy response.  (ECERS-ITERS: Personal Care Routines. K7.1 C1, K7.5 C1, K7.5 C2, K7.6 C1 ) 6/2017

This workshop uses the interactive curriculum from the Food Allergy Network. It includes a video and mock epinephrine (EpiPen) demonstration. Participants practice reading food labels to find hidden ingredients that are the same as common food allergens and learn the basics of food allergy and allergen types in foods. The group discusses how to modify the child care setting for a child with a food allergy, and a plan for handling a food allergy response. 

The FNIC federal website of the U.S. Department of Agriculture provides a directory to credible, accurate, and practical food and nutrition resources for consumers, nutrition and health professionals, educators and government personnel. You will find links to current obesity prevention websites on the home page of FNIC - Dietary Guidelines for Americans, core messages about healthy eating, Let's Move, My Plate Super Tracker and more. 12/2012