“When We Do Sit Down Together”: Family Meal Times in Low-Income African American Families With Preschoolers

Robin L. Jarrett, Ozge Sensoy Bahar, Renique T. Kersh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Regular family meal times have been associated with enhanced family cohesion and positive developmental outcomes for children–youth, especially in White and/or middle-class families. Less is known about the meal time experiences of low-income African American families. Guided by a family resilience perspective, this study examines meal times among a sample of low-income African American caregivers of preschoolers in an inner-city neighborhood. We conducted in-depth qualitative interviews and a photo elicitation interview with 11 low-income African American caregivers about their family meal time experiences. We found that caregivers valued family meal times and acknowledged their benefits for family life. However, competing demands such as family schedules, household configurations, chores, time pressures, fast food restaurants, and low-wage work affected the schedule and structure of meal times. This study adds to discussions of family meal times among low-income African American families and provides suggestions for enhancing mealtimes through culturally and developmentally appropriate interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1483-1513
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Family Issues
Issue number11
StatePublished - Sep 8 2014


  • African American families
  • low-income
  • meal times
  • preschool children
  • qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of '“When We Do Sit Down Together”: Family Meal Times in Low-Income African American Families With Preschoolers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this