Should ASD students have longer recess and lunch? Parents and doctors say 'yes'

Published: Jan. 7, 2019 at 10:29 PM AKST
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Parents and a family physician are concerned that young students in Alaska are not getting enough lunchtime to socialize and energize for the day's classes.

The Anchorage School Board heard public testimony about a desire to extend lunch and recess time from 45 minutes to 60 minutes, citing benefits to health and performance.

But the young students did not need much help articulating their frustrations.

"I also want to talk about getting hangry,” 3rd grader at Sand Lake Elementary School Anna Carpenter said to the board. “At lunch, the longest amount of time that students get to eat is 13 minutes. I need food for energy, and I need energy to be able to concentrate at school."

Parents argued their kids are coming home from school hungry, that they don't have enough time to eat their lunches. They asked for 30 minute lunches, and that the board also consider 30 minute recess. They said this is particularly important during the dark months in Alaska, in order to give students as much exposure to sunlight as possible.

Jessica Noble has two children going to school in the Anchorage School District.

“I think that we need more time for recess, especially for Alaskan children,” Noble said. “I think November, December and January is very, very dark. I really feel it’s important for my kids to get some light during the day.”

Another Sand Lake Elementary student concluded his testimony with poetic flair.

"Sand lake elementary is the school of the lion. The king of the jungle,” 5th grader at Sand Lake Elementary Spencer Carpenter said. “Lions are smart. A symbol of strength and power. How do you expect all 700 of us to be strong, smart, a figure of discipline with a short lunch and recess?"

Jennifer Perkins is a family physician at Southcentral Foundation. "As a family physician, I have the opportunity to learn about the health and the social challenges of multiple generations," Perkins said. "We can decide to provide simple, sensible interventions now, allowing kids to eat and play."

Channel 2 spoke with Board President Starr Marsett said before the public testimony. She said ASD has already increased lunch and recess times from 40 to 45 minutes, and with one of the shortest school days in the nation it's very hard to find extra time.

The board also addressed a resolution to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. by supporting service activities in Anchorage on January 21st.

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