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"In my experience, nothing creates a better environment for a great conversation than time shared in the kitchen." - Fr. Leo

The Movement
Grace Before Meals is a movement to bring families back to the dinner table- away from work, school, TV, games, and the many other things we get caught up in- to share a delicious meal together, communicate and love one another and be nourished- body, mind, and soul. How? With easy lessons, tasty recipes and reasons to come together and share in the love that only a family or friend can provide.

Grace Before Meals is centered on one fundamental concept: the simple act of creating and sharing a meal can strengthen all kinds of relationships. Research has been done to show that the family that eats (and prays) together will stay together, so it is our mission to give families the tools they need to come together at dinner time and be nourished- body, mind, and soul. Luckily, these "tools" are simply delicious and easy-to-make recipes, ideas for talking together, and prayers to bring God to the table. So join in on the movement and share it with family, friends and even enemies, for the best way to one's heart is through the stomach, so let us serve one another with Grace Before Meals....and after meals too.

Fr. Leo Patalinghug - Host of Grace Before Meals  - Fr. Leo Patalinghug is a priest member of a community of consecrated life, Voluntas Dei (Latin phrase that means 'The Will of God'). This community is a Secular Institute of Pontifical Rite.  He is the Founder, Host, and Director of Grace Before Meals, an international apostolate to help strengthen families and relationship through God's gift of a family meal. He is also establishing a non-profit organization called "The Table Foundation" with the mission to elevate culture and family life, one meal at a time.  Along with his priestly duties, Fr. Leo is the host for the TV Show Savoring our Faith on EWTN, Co-Host for the radio show Entertaining Truth on Sirius XM Radio, bestselling author, contributor for newspaper and magazines, and rated as one of the best speakers for the New Evangelization.  Fr. Leo has been featured on ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, EWTN, and even the Food Network, where Fr. Leo defeated a world famous chef in a cooking competition called, "Throw Down! with Bobby Flay."  His message combines faithful Catholic theology presented in a way that everyone can understand and appreciate.  Using his unique background as a chef, a 3rd degree Black Belt Martial Arts Teacher, and former award winning choreographer for a break dancing group, Fr. Leo's presentations, retreats, parish missions, and keynote talks have brought diverse audiences closer to the Lord's Table.   

Why We Do What We Do - THE RESEARCH

Families That Eat Together, Stay Together
MEXICO CITY, JAN. 16, 2009 ( It is no more complicated than sitting down together at the table, but according to an economist from the Catholic University of America, simply sharing family meals is key for children's development. And, the economist suggested, strong families are good not just for the children given life within them. They are also good for the economy.

These were affirmations made by Maria Sophia Aguirre, a professor in the department of economics at Washington, D.C.'s Catholic University of America, during her address today at the 6th World Meeting of Families, underway in Mexico City.

Her presentation focused on the multiple benefits of stable families based on marriage, for all involved parties. She cited statistics such as marriage increases the likelihood of the father having good relations with children; divorce reduces the likelihood of children graduating from college and high school; and married mothers have lower levels of depression than single or co-habiting mothers.

Even physical health is better for families based on marriage, she said: Infant mortality is sharply reduced in this structure and there are lower probabilities of injury.

On the contrary, Aguirre noted, "the breakdown of the family is a symptom of a sick and weak society."

Problems of all sorts increase in irregular families: Women are more likely to be abused, kids are more likely to use drugs, and women and children of broken families have a higher probability of living in poverty.

More than a meal
And though it cannot be the solution for every problem, Aguirre mentioned that the simple act of eating together as a family has an effect on the development of children.

According to a study done by the National Center on Substance and Addiction at Colombia University, when comparing adolescents who eat dinner 0-2 times a week with their families and those who eat dinner 5-7 times, those who eat with their families more frequently are 40% more like to talk to their parents about a problem. Meanwhile, 171% of the teens who don't eat with their families note more tension at home.

Academic performance went up 38%. Kids were 142% less likely to smoke, 93% less likely to drink, 191% less likely to use marijuana and 169% less likely to have more than half of their friends be drug users.

And predictably, a family composed of both parents is 3.5 times more likely to have dinner as a family than a single-parent household.

More Than Money
"The breakdown of the family damages the economy and society since human, moral and social capital is reduced and social costs increase," she explained.

The professor contended that family structure is quite relevant for wealth, and that there is evidence to support this from across countries.

"The family is a necessary good for economic development," Aguirre concluded. "It should be promoted and protected if poverty reduction wants to be achieved."

Originally Published: The Importance of Family Meals IV The National Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University
Family Meals in Adolescents University of Minnesota