CASA’s Family Day encourages families to share mealtime

On Monday, gathering with the family to stamp out smoking, drinking and drug use will be part of a balanced meal.

The second annual “Family Day —- A Day to Eat with Your Children” is to be observed Monday. The occasion is intended to encourage families to remove distractions such as televisions and video games and have dinner together.

Statistics show that parents who take time to eat with their children postively affect their children’s future.

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, or CASA, at Columbia University conducted surveys for the past 15 years that showed that children who dine with their family members are less prone to indulge in smoking, drinking and illegal drug use.

CASA launched “Family Day —- A Day to Eat with Your Children” in 2001. The Clark County Commission designated the fourth Monday in September as Family Day in 2010.

District E Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani signed off on the measure and said she’s rallying community groups to use the declaration as a jumping-off point.

“To me, this is an ongoing program,” she said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to look at rebuilding our core.”

Giunchigliani said she grew up gathering around the table with her five siblings and parents every night at

“Mom knew what we were doing, Dad knew what we were doing, they knew our friends, what we were up to,” she said.

Giunchigliani said she did research during her time as a teacher about the benefits of sharing a meal as a family and found positive results. She said family unity recently has been an unforeseen benefit of the economic downturn.

“What we’re finding is that in tough economic times, people are sitting down together,” she said. “They’re actually coming back and having conversations.”

Sarah Masse, a Las Vegas mother of two young sons, Nathan, 7, and Nicholas, 5, said dinner time is sometimes her only chance to focus on her family.

“Like everyone, I’m busy with work and school starting back up for them and all that,” she said. “If I can press pause for half an hour a night, I will. I make Family Day every day if I can.”

Giunchigliani said the focused Family Day time also is a good opportunity to teach about healthy eating, in addition to other lifestyle choices.

“If parents show their kids they care, they will have less potential for abuse of any kind,” she said.

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Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter Maggie Lillis at or 477-3839.

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