Tips on Preparing a Safe Lunch for Kids Heading Back to School

Posted on August 13, 2012

With kids across the country set to go back to school as soon as this week, we’ve reported on ways to keep your children safe on the way to school and to ensure that a backpack won’t induce an injury.  Now, we’d like to turn your attention to a report which provides tips for ensuring that your child won’t become ill from an unlikely source:  their lunch.

Staying safe begins with ensuring that your child’s lunch is packed with all those things that would promote a healthy diet.  Fruit, protein, and whole-grain bread help to encourage healthy eating habits.  When polled, over 67% of children said they like eating food that would be considered good for them.

When it comes to perishable foods, it’s better to be safe than sorry.  Such items should not be left out of a refrigeration unit for more than a couple of hours, which eliminates many different types of foods if your child’s school doesn’t give kids the option of placing their lunches in a refrigerator.  If such an option is unavailable, then things like mayonnaise and yogurt could be replaced with non-perishable things like granola, whole fruit, peanut better, celery sticks, and the like.

More than a quarter of parents reportedly pack their kids’ lunch the night before school.  If you fall into this category, then put the items in a refrigerator overnight.  You certainly don’t want to leave the items out for hours on end.  If you do opt to send your child off with perishable foods among their items, then it should be packed up in an insulated unit with an ice pack or some other container that can keep food cold.  Many children plan on leaving certain items until after lunch so they have a snack that can keep their hunger at bay until dinner.  Should your child fall into this category, then make sure to pack in an extra non-perishable item and warn your kid not to eat something that could go bad in that timespan.

One thing that often goes unnoticed is the frequency with which a lunchbox gets cleaned.  50% of children say their lunch boxes don’t get cleaned daily, and some say such washing hardly takes place at all.  Parents should use this as a warning to wash the lunchbox every single day.

The lunchbox isn’t the only thing that should be washed:  fruits and vegetables should be cleaned before being packed into a lunch as well.  And while we’re on the subject of washing, make sure your kids understand the importance of washing hands before eating.  Consider placing a hand sanitizer in with your kid’s lunch if you suspect they might skip the hand-washing phase of lunch.

Check out the full report for more lunch safety tips.

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