Official State of Nebraska website - Return to Nebraska.gov

National School Lunch Program - NSLP

Forms & Resource Center

Schedule Recess First

Help students eat better and learn more

The American School Food Service Association recommends that schools allow students to play first and return to the classroom after eating. It is also recommended that schools provide meal periods that allow children to have 10 minutes to eat breakfast and 20 minutes to each lunch after they have selected their meal.

Consider the Benefits:

  • Children eat more. They are hungry and ready to eat more of their lunch. They are not rushing out to play.
  • It's cost effective. Children throw away less food. Which means more value for the food service dollar.
  • Cafeteria behavior is better. Children are focused on their lunch, not recess and socializing.
  • Classroom behavior is better. Children are quieter and more settled when they return to class.
  • Children are ready to learn. They have eaten well and can pay better attention in their afternoon classes.

Tips for Success:

  • Work out details in advance with the school food service manager, teachers and other staff.
  • Set up a routine that promotes handwashing before eating.
  • Decide where children should place coats after recess.
  • Take care of lunch moneyin the morning before recess.
  • Have a convenient place to store cold lunches.
  • Be sure children are allowed enough time to eat.
  • Plan for supervision during recess, lunch and the transition times.

Play First Then Eat! (Brochure.pdf)

Recess First Reference Materials.pdf


NUTRITION SERVICES > FORMS AND RESOURCE CENTER > NATIONAL SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM > NUTRITION RESOURCES > SCHEDULE RECESS FIRST