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Real Family Dinner Projects: Partnering With the Quincy Children’s Museum

Posted on: September 20th, 2022 by Bri DeRosa

Image Credit: Amy Peters

We’re always excited to see the many unique ways in which partners across the country share The Family Dinner Project with their audiences. In 2021-2022, a grant from the Tracy Family Foundation made possible several fantastic and creative programs, including a series of events at the Quincy Children’s Museum in Quincy, IL. Check out their innovative ideas!

The Families:

Families in Quincy, Illinois were able to access events and exhibits at the Children’s Museum reflecting The Family Dinner Project and the importance of family meals. 60 families attended a community dinner event where they prepared meals, while many others were able to interact with content about family meals through ongoing outreach exhibits as part of the museum’s mobile programming.

Image Credit: Amy Peters

The Events:

Working with another local business, Dinner is in the Bag, the Children’s Museum set up community events to allow families to learn, share, and create meals they could bring home. The events were created to follow both the model of The Family Dinner Project, and the Museum’s core values: Curiosity (Inspiring families to try something new); Connection (Empowering families to develop intentional relationships); Creativity (Exploring new materials and concepts together); and Discovery (Creating meaning opportunities to learn something new).

In addition to the dinner events, the Quincy Children’s Museum extended the family meals theme by offering exhibits and activities aligned with the concept of connecting and exploring through food, fun, and conversation. They set up an interactive mini-market exhibit to allow children to play, explore, and create with (pretend) food. They also offered community giveaways featuring our Eat, Laugh, Talk book, gift cards to help with family meals, and board games to bring to the table for family game nights.

Image Credit: Amy Peters

Throughout the summer of 2022, the Museum also brought some family dinner activities and ideas into their community programming. One highlight was running dinner-themed programming with children participating in the Quincy Park District summer camp. The Museum staff visited and engaged in dialogue and sharing with the children about mealtimes in their families, played games, and helped them make ice cream. The mini-market exhibit was also integrated into the Museum’s summer pop-up events.

“It was so nice to carve out some specific time to intentionally pour into families, develop meaningful conversations and relationships, and share our heart and mission with the community through this initiative,” says Amy Peters, Director of the Quincy Children’s Museum.

The Takeaways, Next Steps, and Best Part

Amy shares that the Museum plans to continue extending the family dinner learning and fun throughout the Fall of 2022, through an expansion of the exhibits and programming ideas. In mid-September, the museum participated in a Family Fun Day in collaboration with local dietitians from both healthcare and food distribution centers. The museum also plans to reach children and families in October at a variety of trunk or treat style events, sharing components of The Family Dinner Project.

Image Credit: Amy Peters

What was the best part of dedicating some of the Museum’s efforts to family dinners? “What stands out is the gratitude families had following the event for the intentional time we dedicated to making this a priority,” Amy says. She also points out the many connections between family meal-themed playtime and real-world academic and life skills. “The kids adored the mini market we created for the event and we’re hoping to expand it. The conversations it’s sparked, connection to math, sorting, colors, food identification, dramatic play, and real life skills have been so valuable!”

We’re so impressed by the creative thinking and deep dedication to family connections shown by the Quincy Children’s Museum and its community partners. Thank you, Amy and team!

Would you like to learn more about bringing The Family Dinner Project to your community? Contact us.