Recent studies suggest teens in families where members sit down and eat meals as a unit, are less likely to smoke or use and abuse drugs or alcohol. The Kent County Prevention Coalition, Network 180 and Brann's Steakhouse & Grille have teamed up to encourage West Michigan families to break bread together.

"This is very important. Sitting down with your kids is your opportunity to get a pulse on their lives. A chance for you to find out what is going on with them, how they are feeling, what they are thinking and what they are involved in," said Nadia Kimble, spokesperson with Kent County Prevention Coalition.

The effort is in conjunction with 'Family Meals Month' and 'National Family Day.' The latter is a movement, acknowledged each September, that focuses on the importance of creating strong and united families.

That is something very important to the owner of Brann's Steakhouse and Grille.

"Family is so important. The Brann's family has been around in West Michigan for a long time. And, they really, really love bringing families together," said Sue Brubacher, General Manager at the Leonard location.

Starting Monday, Sept. 25, customers who show staff a downloaded TalkSooner app on their mobile device will be able to receive a free appetizer with a minimum soft drink purchase.

Kimble says TalkSooner is one of the latest tools available to parents to help navigate those difficult conversations.

"Some people feel it a little bit awkward. They don't know how to start that conversation with their teenager. So, on that website and app they can find resources and questions that can be used to open that up," said Kimble. "With that they can take it according to their comfort level. They don't have to start out with something super-deep or invasive. Parents can start out by opening the door and building trust and building that rapport with their own children."

Research indicates teens who have fewer than three family meals together per week are almost four times likelier to use tobacco, more than twice as likely to use alcohol and marijuana and less like to perform well academically than those who have frequent (between five and seven) meals together each week.

The App For An App promotion runs the week of Sept. 25 through Oct. 1 at all ten of Brann's Michigan restaurants.

The TalkSooner app is free and is endorsed by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. It's available on Apple and Android devices.

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