OSPI Seeks To Expand Time for Lunch for Elementary Students

From OSPI and State Superintendent Chris Rykdal (bold mine):

Over the past two years, the state and federal governments have spent nearly $240 million on programs designed to provide students with healthier options at meal times and promote lifelong healthy living in order to combat rising obesity rates.

To ensure these investments have the most impact on our students, the State Auditor’s Office (SAO) performed an audit on lunchtime scheduling and practices in our K–12 schools. Research shows when students have more time to eat and our young learners go to recess before lunch, they are more likely to make healthier choices in the lunch line.
The SAO released their audit today, and they found most of the Washington schools included in the study are not following these best practices. There are several logistical reasons for this – inadequate facilities, overcrowding, scheduling, and more – however, sometimes difficult tasks are what produce the best outcomes.

My office will initiate a rulemaking process to require schools to provide at least 20 minutes of seated lunch time for all students, as well as recess before lunch for students in elementary school. We are not aiming to make sweeping changes overnight. We expect it will take several years to implement these changes in some schools.
Throughout the rulemaking process, we will be engaging with all of our education partners. The purpose of this public process is to listen, and we will do so authentically.

I am grateful for the SAO’s partnership in collecting more data and research on this important topic. The bottom line is this: Students who have access to nutritious meals and the time to consume those meals are better equipped to meet educational milestones.


Unknown said…
Hey Melissa and All,

That's a good move. I'm intrigued by the play before eating leading to healthier choices at the cafeteria line or in the sack from home.

I often bolted my lunch so I could go play ball during the lunch recess time. I've been disappointed when my kids couldn't go play at lunch.

Having food after play probably helps them move the kids on to class in a little more orderly way as well.

SP, I have heard of some schools trying lunch after recess. I wish they would let the kids decide. At the school I volunteered out, most of the kids were rushed to finish lunch (and most wanted to go to recess) but some wanted a quieter, longer lunch and cared less about recess.
Anonymous said…
This is exactly what we experienced, see the KUOW story about the state audit. I would also add that in severely overcrowded schools, and many are actually also majority white schools, kids don't have enough time to eat and play.

There are long lunch and bathroom lines. There are dense crowds of kids to get through in the hallways to make it to the bathroom and lunch room. Kids who buy their lunch, many of whom are also free and reduced lunch qualifying kids at these schools, have little time to eat or play. They all don't have enough time to also go to the bathroom which also has long lines.


NW parent

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