POMONA, NY (WCBS 880) – The Rockland County health department wants families to sit down together for dinner.

WCBS 880’s Sean Adams On The Story

“We saw the connection between the family meal and an umbrella of protective factors,” said school health coordinator Carrie Steindorff. “It protects against drug use… It is also is a protective factor against obesity.”

That’s why she is helping the county on its mission.

“We have posters in our public buses. We now have a display that can be put in a library lobby or school lobby,” Steindorff said.

Psychologist Kathleen Cuneo cites studies that have been done at Columbia University.

“Teenagers who eat meals at least five times a week with their families are at much lower risk for substance abuse. They eat healthier. They do better in school,” she told WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams. “It’s providing structure for the family.”

Stories from Main Street - Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

Stories from Main Street - Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

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So, Dornzella Milligan with the Rockland Council on Alcoholism and other Drug Dependence went to the Pomona Middle School with packets for the students.

“[They] included a pamphlet about family day, some placemats, some napkins, and some fun activities that they could do with their family,” she said.

If the students brought back the placemats signed by their parents, they received reward credits at the school store.

“A lot of them talked about different types of conversations that they were able to have having everyone there, having everyone participate. One young lady told me that her and her mother made a special recipe,” said guidance counselor Sandra Oates.

In this busy age with two parents working and conflicting schedules, it can be difficult to get together.

Cuneo says the effort is well worth it.

“It’s just as important as all those other things you may be running around doing. So, to make the time to schedule it in and adjust your schedule,” she said.

How often do you eat dinner as a family? Share your story in the comments section below!

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