ASD School Board votes unanimously for extended lunch hours next school year

ASD school board board voted unanimously across the board to revise their formal Student Nutrition and Physical Board Physical Board Policy.
Published: Feb. 8, 2023 at 6:23 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Anchorage School District elementary school students will see changes to their lunch hours during the upcoming school year.

At Tuesday night’s Anchorage School Board meeting, the board voted unanimously to revise the board policy concerning student nutrition. The new changes would guarantee elementary school students at least 20 minutes of lunchtime, starting from the moment they are served food.

“When we have many students in a hot lunch line, sometimes that last student at the end of the lunch line doesn’t really have very long to eat their lunch,” Anchorage School Board Member Kelly Lessens said.

The updated policy ensures all students in elementary school get the same time to eat. It also sets a standard across all district schools about how much time is allocated. Prior to this, the district said that times for lunch varied from school to school. The increase in time to eat will allow kids to have more brain power to get through the day, Lessens said.

“It’s going to improve our student time-on-task, lower our rate of behavior problems and provide for a better overall learning environment,” Lessens said.

Secondary students will have at least 30 minutes to eat lunch.

“This really just gives them that 30 minutes and says this is their time to do what they need to be ready to learn,” Lessens said.

Lessens said that class times will be rearranged throughout the day to make up for the added time for lunch.

“We may have to technically lose five minutes here or five minutes there to make that work,” Lessens said. “But I suspect, because the research tells us this, that our students are going to be more attenuated to that learning experience and it’s going to be a better overall learning environment.”

Lessens said that the added time may have a long-term impact on the academic outcome of ASD students.

“If we think even bigger, we know that the state of Alaska is going to benefit from improved student outcomes and student health outcomes,” Lessens said. “There could be real cost savings on the order of millions of dollars if we can get young students to begin to be more physically active and incorporate that throughout their school days.”