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Lunchbox Fun

Parents, teachers, and students: welcome back to school!

Along with education, social engagement, and student personal growth, food is a major part of school culture.

Consider the different times foods can pop up during the school day:

  • Breakfast – at home, on-the-go to school, or a school-provided meal
  • Lunch – a meal packed at home or provided by the school
  • Snacks – towards the end of the day in a classroom and after school on the student's own
  • Specials – such as celebrations for birthdays, holidays, and other events

For families packing meals and snacks, try these tips:

    1. Use Healthy Ready-to-Eat Conveniences
    • Whole fruits, like bananas, apples, and pears, are great convenience foods. Just wash, dry, and pack.
    • Also try foods in individual containers, such as pre-packed fruit cups in juice, pre-sliced apple bags, and snack-sized cups of ranch dressing, nut butters, and hummus.
    • If the extra cost and trash of individual items is a concern, buy reusable containers and fill with foods yourself.
    2. Pack Happy Thoughts
    • Download these fun lunchbox notes for your students and send a little love and humor in the middle of the day.
    • Even if you are not packing meals, slip a note into your student's pocket or backpack.
    3.Include At Least 3 Food Groups
    • MyPlate is the updated Food Pyramid with five food groups: fruits, vegetables, protein, grains, and dairy.
    • In packing a lunch, add at least three food groups for your student. For snacks, try one or two food groups.
    4. Safety First
    • Non-perishable foods, like crackers, plastic-packed fruit cups, and whole fruits and vegetables (like a banana or grape tomatoes), are nice for brown-bag lunches and field-trips.
    • When choosing perishable foods, such as cheese sticks, cut pieces of fruit and veggies, and meats and seafood, like tuna salad or deli meat, pack these in insulated lunch bags with a couple ice packs. For more on packing food-safe meals, Search Extension.
    5. Pack the Night Before
    • Or…Have your student pack the meal when they come home from school.
    • Or…Waiting for dinner to cook? Look to pack a meal during any downtime.
    • Or decide what time works with your schedule.

      May you have a good school year! And parents, these tips can be used to pack meals for your workplace too.

      Today's post was written by Caitlin Huth. Caitlin Huth, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and Nutrition & Wellness Educator serving DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt Counties. She teaches nutrition- and food-based lessons around heart health, food safety, diabetes, and others. In all classes, she encourages trying new foods, gaining confidence in healthy eating, and getting back into our kitchens.