Auditor's report: students need recess before lunch and 20 minutes to eat

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Chris Reykdal, SPI
The Office of the State Superintendent of Public Education (OSPI) will promote the recommendations of the State Auditor's Office (SAO) for better lunchtime practices in state schools.

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 on Wednesday, 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.

The OSPI 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.

SPI Chris Reykdahl said, "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.
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