#6 September 2022: Back to School with MyPlate

Back to school marks new beginnings, mixed emotions, and all of a sudden…stress! How can you manage your time, juggle more responsibilities and, of course, pack lunch for your picky eater?

Don’t worry. The USDA has the perfect back-to-school meal prep to keep you and your family safe… and it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3! https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2018/08/28/back-school-meal-prep-easy-1-2-3

Woman and child packing lunch

Snack Time! 

Whether your child is returning to school in-person or virtually this fall, snacks are an important part of their learning.  Prepackaged snacks can be costly and are higher in fat and sodium providing very little vitamins and minerals.  This blog will guide you on why healthy snacks are important and how you can easily prepare snacks that are delicious, nutritious and easy on your wallet.

Simple steps to keep in mind as your child returns to school this September:

  1. Plan ahead-if you can make and pack your child’s lunch box with sensible snacks, delicious lunch and water, you will have smoother mornings.
  2. Involve your child-they will be more inclined to eat what is in their lunch box.  Children can peel, assemble, measure, scoop, slice, package, pour, and create and name their own special snack.
  3. Try using fun bento boxes/containers/snack bags/icepacks-have your child put stickers on paper bags for their “super special snack-of-the-day!”
  4. Most classrooms have a small snack time window, so keep snacks simple but well-balanced to include 2 or more of the food groups.
  5. Water is the best beverage for snack time-it’s sugar-free and all natural.

Sensible Back to School Snacks

Healthy Snacking with MyPlate

kids eating lunch

Story Time! Listen to the children’s book, Healthy Snacks on MyPlate By: Mari Schuh

Tips for Picky Eaters

Do any of the statements below remind you of your child?

“Ebony will only eat peanut butter sandwiches.”
“Michael won’t eat anything green, just because of the color.”
“Bananas used to be Matt’s favorite food, but now he won’t even touch them.”

Your child may eat only a certain type of food or refuse foods based on a certain color or texture. He or she may also play at the
table and may not want to eat. Don’t worry if your child has some picky eating behaviors. Picky eating behavior is common for
many children from the age of 2 to 5 years. As long as your child is growing as the doctor suggests, he or she is most likely eating
enough to be healthy. If you have concerns about your child’s growth or eating behavior, talk to your child’s doctor.

It’s back-to-school time, and, for many students, that means that many parents will be packing lunches for their kids again. Leaving food at room temperature can cause bacteria to grow to dangerous levels that can cause illness. Bacteria grow most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F, doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes. This range of temperatures is often called the “Danger Zone.” Here are some tips from USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service for keeping lunches out of the Danger Zone:

  • If the lunch/snack contains perishable food items, such as luncheon meats, eggs, cheese, or yogurt, make sure to pack it with at least two cold sources.
  • Frozen juice boxes or water can also be used as freezer packs. By lunchtime, the liquids should be thawed and ready to drink.
  • Pack lunches containing perishable food in an insulated lunchbox or soft-sided lunch bag.
  • If packing a hot lunch, including such things as soup, chili or stew, use an insulated container to keep it hot. Fill the container with boiling water, let stand for a few minutes, empty, and then put in the piping hot food.
  • If packing a child’s lunch the night before, parents should leave it in the refrigerator overnight.
  • If possible, a child’s lunch should be stored in a refrigerator or cooler and the lid of the lunchbox or bag left open so that cold air can better circulate and keep the food cold.
  • After lunch, discard all leftover food, used food packaging, and paper bags. Do not reuse packaging because it could contaminate other food and cause foodborne illness.