Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2017

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair

Nicole Stendell-Hollis

Second Committee Member

Tishra Beeson

Third Committee Member

Dana Ogan


Recess Before Lunch (RBL) is a wellness strategy with a purpose of improving the overall health and behavior of school-aged children. While some studies have reported a variety of benefits and challenges by simply scheduling recess prior to the specified lunchtime, few have examined adequate strategies for successful implementation. This mixed-methods study asked elementary school principals and school food service directors within each K-5th grade public school throughout the state of Washington to participate in an online survey assessing their school’s experience using RBL. Schools were placed into three groups based on participants’ stage of RBL adoption: (1) currently using RBL, (2) previously used RBL, or (3) have never implemented RBL. Basic demographic information from each school was collected and matched to the survey responses. Participants from the online survey were asked to provide contact information of a school professional closely involved with the lunch services in their school to complete a semi-structured follow-up interview. Eighteen individuals, six in each of the three stages of RBL adoption, participated in a 10-15-minute phone interview to further investigate perceptions related to RBL. Roughly 75.8% of schools reported having some experience with RBL (N = 74). Benefits most often reported were associated with Nutrition & Food Waste, Behavior & Disruption and Scheduling, respectively; whereas the barriers included Scheduling & Staffing, Logistics, Nutrition & Food Waste and Behavior & Disruption, respectively. However, whether a school reported any benefits had no effect on its history of scheduling the program. A significant correlation was found between student enrollment and a school’s experience with RBL. Schools that never implemented RBL had smaller student enrollments (p < 0.01) and were significantly more likely to report any barriers (p < 0.01), whereas schools currently utilizing the program that had a higher student enrollment (p < 0.05) when compared to all other schools. Telephone interviewees reported the significance of gaining support from all involved parties and encouraged finding solutions to challenges prior to implementing the program.