06/22/2012 03:38 pm ET

Table Talk: The Benefits Of Eating Together

This week's Family Dinner Table Talk, from HuffPost and The Family Dinner book:

There’s a reason so many dates, business meetings and affairs of state occur at the breakfast, lunch or dinner table: sharing a meal with someone is a wonderful way to get to know him or her.

And no matter how well you think you know your family, you’ll find that (in the words of HuffPost blogger Dr. Claire McCarthy) "[f]amily dinners are a practical, tangible way to send a clear message that you care about what is going on with your children and that they are part of a family." (Not to mention that you’ll probably be enjoying healthy foods.)

If you’re struggling to meet for dinner regularly, the good news is that plenty of people want to help. Laurie David has joined other family-meal proponents to support a new project, America Makes Dinner, dedicated to helping parents and kids enjoy more meals together. (Check out its website for some yummy recipe ideas.) On October 17, the campaign will host a nationwide “dinner party” in which families all over the country cook the same dish at the same time.

Whether it’s the group conversation or the napkin fights that bring you to the table week in and week out, we’re betting you’ll find more than one reason to be grateful for sitting down with your family at the end of the day. If the First Family can make time to do it, so can you.

Questions for discussion:

  • Is there any food your family doesn’t eat very often that you’d like to try making together?
  • Who would you invite to dinner if you could invite anyone at all?
  • Which family recipe would you share with the America Makes Dinner project?

In her cookbook, The Family Dinner, Laurie David talks about the importance of families making a ritual of sitting down to dinner together, and how family dinners offer a great opportunity for meaningful discussions about the day's news. "Dinner," she says, "is as much about digestible conversation as it is about delicious food."

We couldn't agree more. So HuffPost has joined with Laurie and every Friday afternoon, just in time for dinner, our editors highlight one of the most compelling news stories of the week -- stories that will spark a lively discussion among the whole family.