Dasha Stein 0

Expanded lunch and recess time for our kids

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Dear Ms. Beller,

We want our children to be able to eat healthfully and have enough play time to be ready to learn. Please increase lunch/recess time from 35 minutes total to 60 minutes. This time increase should ensure our kids have the recommended minimum 20-25 minutes “table time” to eat their lunches and the recommended minimum of 15 minutes recess time per day.

Thanks, Mrs. Beller! Please do this for our kids!


Parents of Columbian Kids


Why a longer lunch period is important:

  • Research shows that elementary school students who were given 30 minutes for lunch consumed more foods with nutrients, than did those with a 20-minute lunch period [The relationship between the length of the lunch period and nutrient consumption in the elementary school lunch setting. October 2004]
  • Providing sufficient time to eat lunch is crucial for promoting healthy eating behaviors among children. (1) American Academy of Pediatrics (2) and the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity (3) recommend that students have at least 20 minutes to eat, beginning from the time they are seated with their meal. [1. Changing the Scene - Improving the School Nutrition Environment. A Call to Action. 2000. www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/CalltoAction.... ; 2. American Academy of Pediatrics, National Association of School Nurses. Health, Mental Health and Safety Guidelines for Schools. 2005; 3. National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity. Model Local School Wellness Policies on Physical Activity and Nutrition. 2005]
  • Most of the kids in the U.S. don't get much time to eat lunch. …many of them feel rushed. And a recent study suggests that this time crunch may be undermining good nutrition at school. “Kids learn a lot at school. They should [also] learn how to eat slowly and enjoy their food," says Prof. Rimm, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. [NPR, Kids Who Are Time-Crunched At School Lunch Toss More And Eat Less, September 24, 2015]
  • Extensive research by the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reports that students who had less than 25 minutes to eat their lunch, ate 13 percent less of their main entree and 12 percent less of their vegetables. They drank 10 percent less milk, too, compared with students who had 25 minutes or more to eat. They also found more food waste among kids who had less time to eat. School policies that encourage lunches with at least 25 minutes of seated time might reduce food waste and improve dietary intake. [The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; Amount of Time to Eat Lunch Is Associated with Children’s Selection and Consumption of School Meal Entrée, Fruits, Vegetables, and Milk; September 11, 2015]

Why recess is important:

  • A 2009 study of 11,000 third graders published in Pediatrics, shows that adding more play to the day, not less, improves the likelihood of better test scores and behavior. [US News and World Report; 4 Reasons More Recess Helps Kids Do Better in School: Principals say children’s behavior and academic achievement improve with more recess]
  • Children who got more than 15 minutes a day or exercise behaved better in class [2009 Robert Wood Johnson / Gallup report “The State of Play” Research document]
  • Children need recess. It benefits every aspect of childhood development—physical development, of course, but also social, emotional and intellectual development as well. [Children's Health & Wellness, Issue #25, Author Rae Pica; March 1st]
  • Research shows that when children have recess, they are less fidgety and more on task, have improved memory and more focused attention, develop more brain connections, learn negotiation skills, exercise leadership, teach games, take turns, and learn to resolve conflicts, are more physically active before and after school. Jarrett maintains that recess has benefits over gym class. "With recess, children have choices and can organize their own games, figure out what's fair, and learn a lot of social behavior that they don't learn in P.E.," she says. [Scholastic.com; Recess Makes Kids Smarter: The benefits of recess are clear. Why are so many schools cutting back?]

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