Having Recess Before Lunch Means More Nutritious ChoicesSchools that hold recess before lunch find that students select and consume significantly more fruits and vegetables!
The National School Lunch Program underwent reforms in 2010 requiring participating schools to offer more fruits and vegetables, however, many schools found that these components of a balanced meal were ending up not in children’s stomachs but in trash cans, thus not providing the desired nutritional improvements for students. In response to these concerns, researchers David Just, PhD, Cornell University and Joseph Price, PhD, Bingham Young University sought to find ways to nudge student to eat more of their fruits and veggies—reducing food waste and improving student’s nutrition.
In their study published in the journal Preventive Medicine in December, 2014 the researchers reported that in schools that swapped recess to occur before lunch (three of the seven 1-6th grade schools districts they studied) they found a 45% increase in the amount of fruits and vegetables that students selected and that student’s ate an average of 54% more of those fruits and vegetables!
Just and Price suggest that when recess is held after lunch, students will hurry though their meal in order to be excused for recess, whereas if recess is held before lunch, students feel less hurried and are more likely to finish more of their nutritionally balanced meals. They recommend holding recess before lunch as an easy-to-implement, no-cost change that can both improve student’s nutrition and reduce the cafeteria’s food waste.
From Increase Student’s Fruit and Vegetable Consumption by Holding Recess before Lunch.
The Healthy Food Choices in Schools Community of Practice is an online resource area where you can find research based tools and information about how to make simple changes that encourage children to make healthier food selections in school food environments! www.extension.org/healthy_food_choices_in_schools