We are Brindi and Kristine and we are the parents of Kindergarteners in Washington State. It has come to the attention of several Kindergarten parents that our children may not be provided with adequate time to eat their lunchtime meal. Several children have been complaining of stomach pain, hunger, and even weight loss in the few short weeks since school started. As a healthcare provider in Washington State, this is deeply troubling to me.
In a 7 hour day, our school allows for a 30 minute lunch period, which includes: 15 minutes of recess (outdoor play) and 15 minutes to do all of the following: Walk to the lunch room, use the restroom, find their lunch box or stand in line for lunch, eat, and put away their lunch. I don’t know about you, but I would find it challenging to do all those things, as an adult, in just 15 minutes. In reality, most of these children are finding themselves with less than 10 minutes of “seated time,” which I find to be completely unacceptable.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity (NANA) both have published recommendations for at least 20 minutes of “seated time.” Increasing the total length of the lunch hour just 10 minutes and allowing 15 minutes recess and 25 minutes for lunch would allow our young kids the time they need to eat and nourish their growing bodies and minds.
Current state law WAC 392-157-125 states that “The school breakfast and school lunch periods shall allow a reasonable amount of time for each child to take care of personal hygiene and enjoy a complete meal.” but does not provide a specific definition of “reasonable” and, as a result, our children are at the mercy of administrator-driven schedules.
They have now started a petition online in order to get this fixed.