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PLEASANTON, Calif. -- Safeway Inc. and The Safeway Foundation yesterday celebrated Family Day by launching Connect Together, a year-round company-sponsored print, broadcast, in-store, and online campaign urging parents to connect with their children over meals and activities to build stronger families and communities.
The company also hosted events in California with First Lady Maria Shriver and in Illinois with a community dinner attended by local and state government officials.
This is the second year The Safeway Foundation has joined the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA), to remind parents about the importance of parental engagement in their children's lives and encourage parents to have frequent family dinners with their kids as an effective way to prevent substance abuse.
As a research partner, The Safeway Foundation funded CASA's "The Importance of Family Dinners IV" study released last week, which shows that children who frequently sit down to family dinners are at significantly lower risk for substance abuse than those who do not.
"Spending family time together over meals and other activities has a direct, positive impact on the lives of children and teens," said Larree Renda, Safeway e.v.p. and chair of the Safeway Foundation. "We have been actively communicating these benefits in the communities we serve where this message can reach a very wide audience."
Safeway and California First Lady Maria Shriver hosted Family Day festivities at San Francisco's Tenderloin Community School for students and their families. Families will join the First Lady for a dinner and a series of activities.
In one such activity, participating families will pass a series of "stations" designed to communicate the importance of spending quality family time, such cooking, volunteering, writing letters of support to military personnel on active duty, and creating a family plan for disaster preparedness. Safeway-operated stations at the school will provide ingredients for the families to prepare healthy meal at home and information on the nutritional attributes of staple foods, like fruits and vegetables.
"These families will have the opportunity to participate in family togetherness activities and learn something new and fun they can do together back at home," said First Lady Maria Shriver.
In Chicago, Safeway's Dominick's Finer Foods division recognized Family Day with a community dinner in which local and state government officials dined with their families. Illinois Senate president Emil Jones and Cook County State's attorney Richard Devine joined representatives from the Chicago Public Schools and Dominick's employees in this family-style meal.
Yesterday's events coincided with the official release of CASA's "The Importance of Family Dinners IV" report, which shows that, compared to teens who have five to seven family dinners each week, those who dine with their families fewer than three nights a week are:
- Three and a half times likelier to have abused prescription drugs
- Three times likelier to have tried marijuana
- More than two and a half times likelier to have tried cigarettes
- One and a half times likelier to have tried alcohol
- Three times more likely to use drugs in the future
The report also finds that kids who frequently eat dinner with their families are also more likely to have better grades and confide in their parents.
Safeway operates 1,740 stores in the United States and western Canada and had annual sales of $40.2 billion in 2006.