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.