< back to News & Articles

When Students Eat Makes a Difference in What They Eat

When lunch time comes around, many students are much more excited about recess than they are about eating, rushing out to the playground after barely eating a bite. In the attempt to promote healthy eating, many schools are adopting recognized best practices in the cafeteria such as changing the schedule to have recess before lunch. Bellingham elementary schools have switched to recess before lunch and there is anecdotal evidence that the results have been positive (e.g., students stay seated longer and eat more lunch, they return to class ready to learn). The schedule change to recess before lunch can be tricky for school staff to manage however, as extra adults are needed to supervise the transition from playground to cafeteria and ensure students clean their hands before eating.

The Whatcom Farm to School Support Team conducted a plate waste study and measured students’ eating behavior and the impacts of switching to recess before lunch at one elementary school. The findings showed that students ate more of their meal when recess was before lunch than when recess was after lunch. This included increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, and protein. The results were consistent with findings of other research studies and confirmed that scheduling recess before lunch is a best practice that promotes healthy eating behaviors, and it is worth the effort to continue investing in and supporting this practice. Click here for a full report.


Photos used to measure what one student ate following switch to recess before lunch.


Add a comment

(it will not be shared)