A pilot program in the Anchorage School District to enhance children’s wellness by giving them more time for eating and recess has largely been successful, according to administrators. Participating elementary schools gave students 10 minutes to eat breakfast and 20 minutes to eat lunch, not including time to get to the cafeteria or wait in line. The initiative also added 10 minutes to recess, for a total of 30 minutes.
As reported in a March 5, 2020 Alaska Public Media article, administrators said that students participating in the pilot were happier and less hungry than those in other schools, and that the changes appeared to reduce disruptive behavior in younger children.
Juliana Cohen, adjunct assistant professor of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, is conducting research on the pilot program.
“One of the things that’s so exciting about what Anchorage is doing is that this is one of the first schools in the nation to pilot test and evaluate these longer lunch periods and movement breaks throughout the day,” she said in the article. “So what Anchorage is doing can really be a model for districts throughout the nation.”
Read the Alaska Public Media article: Anchorage School District says students benefit from longer lunch and recess
Squeezed school lunch times shortchange kids’ nutrition (Harvard Chan School news)
Short lunch periods in schools linked with less healthy eating (Harvard Chan School news)