A looong time ago, I wrote about the idea of having recess before lunch. The idea being that when kids eat after exercising, they’re hungrier and don’t waste as much. Plus, the allure of recess doesn’t push them to skip half of their lunch.
Well, the idea recently popped up again in the form of an editorial from Laurel Anderson, of the Orfalea Foundation. It seems the California-based group has a Recess First campaign that’s part of the s’Cool Food Initiative. Then again, there’s also the Recess Before Lunch initiative.
Understandably, both efforts have the goal of improved classroom performance that comes with eating a decent lunch and having had time to cool down after playing. Yet, both also recognize the significant side effect of recess first: less food waste.
Washington State’s Ethan Bergman has studied the topic and found that students waste about 30 percent less when recess comes first. Given the better classroom performance, enhanced nutrition and–last but somewhat least–diminished food waste, why haven’t more schools switched? Inertia?
When I had the chance to speak with Bergman at the American Dietetic Association conference, he told me that the word is slowly getting out there. He guessed that the percentage of schools with recess before lunch is probably about 10 percent.
Still, that leaves plenty of room for improvement. After all, I don’t see the downside. Does anyone have experience with this topic?