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Sep/Oct 2011 39
Think food safety
Be smart about food safety. Stave off
food-borne illness with a few common
sense precautions:
Start with a warm up.
you plan to pack soup or other hot
entrees, use preheated insulated
containers. To preheat, just fll with
boiling water and let stand a few
minutes before adding the hot food.
Get the Chills.
Surround your
perishables with chilled items.
Sandwich them between cold packs.
Freeze bread, water bottles, 100%
juice, or yogurt tubes to keep the
inside of your lunch container cold
until lunch time.
Made in the shade.
your children to store their lunch
boxes away from direct sun and any
heating or cooling sources.
No worries.
Pack items that aren’t
temperature sensitive to avoid the
worry of unsafe bacterial growth. 
Pack small packets/cans of meat
or fsh and whole grain crackers for
make it yourself mini sandwiches at
the lunch table.  Peanut butter, bread,
bagels, and wraps, fruits, and veggies
are all safe bets too.
Pack the right stuff
To create nutrient-packed lunches,
remember to cover the basics:
Make whole-grain bread,
mini bagels, pita or tortillas the
basis of healthy sandwiches. Pack
in a container that keeps them from
being squished or crumbled and fresh
Fruits and vegetables.
fruits and veggies easy to munch by
cutting them into bite-sized pieces.
Choose fresh, dried or canned. Send
along a small container of yogurt
for dipping. Again, pay attention
to packing to protect food from
unappetizing bruises.
The standard PBJ is a
great choice. If food allergies nix
peanut butter, explore other protein-
rich spreads for sandwiches. In
addition to lean lunch meat, fsh,
beans, nuts, cheese and tofu are great
protein sources for growing children.
Send milk in a thermos or
let your child purchase milk at school.
If you child isn’t a milk drinker, pack
yogurt, cheese or fortifed juices — all
good sources of calcium.
Keep it interesting
If sandwiches are losing their appeal,
try a twist to deliver the same great
Shape up.
Cut sandwiches into
fun shapes using cookie cutter to add
Switch it up.
Instead of bread,
sandwich your protein, veggies or
fruit between crackers, rice cakes,
bagels, pita pockets or tortillas.
Put in the subs.
Try packing
Containers and more.
begging for those pre-packed lunches
they see ads on TV? Do it yourself
with fun multi pocket containers -
sliced cheese, pita pocket squares,
cut up fruit or veggies. Got an eco
conscious kiddo? Pack items in
reusable sandwich bags in fun,
fashionable prints for girls and guys.
Getting beyond
‘kid food’
School nutrition and food services tend
cater to kids’ likes. Some even try to put
a healthy twist on kids’ favorite foods.
That’s commendable, but realistically
we need to get beyond chicken nuggets,
pizza, and macaroni and cheese if we
want to make a long-term and measur-
able impact on school nutrition and chil-
dren’s health.
Many schools are getting creative and
making a difference. Cafeterias are of-
fering fresh fruit and vegetable bars, and
making connections with local farmers
to bring in fresh foods.
A new U.S. Department of Agricul-
ture (USDA) program, “Chefs Move to
Schools,” supports the First Lady’s “Let’s
Move!” campaign and aims to improve
school nutrition. The program pairs
chefs with teachers, parents, school nu-
trition professionals and administrators
to educate kids about food and nutrition.
Chefs know how to make good food -
good for you and good tasting. After all
kids - like adults - won’t eat foods they
don’t fnd appealing and tasty.
Getting kids involved can also help
make a big difference in school nutrition.
Another USDA program, “Recipes for
Healthy Kids,” does just that. Kids com-
pete and can win prize money for their
schools. Even if your school chooses not
to compete at a national level, this would
be a fun contest to host in your school or
school district.
Let’s start a space to share ideas, right
here. What suggestions do you have for
improving school nutrition and getting
kids to make the switch from highly
processed foods to fresh and healthy
but packing your children’s lunch boxes needn’t be
one of them. Use these tips to create healthy, kid
friendly lunches.
A new school year means new challenges,
Don’t forget the
personal touch
Brighten your child’s day by
writing a note and stashing it the
lunch box. Or go all out and use
a small amount of food coloring
to “stamp” your child’s sandwich
with a secret code or symbol.