Packing School Lunches

The National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs offer nutritious and reasonably priced meals but cannot meet every child's food preferences every day. On days when your child may not like or want to eat what's offered on the school lunch menu, choose options to provide your child with food that is safe and nutritious. Packing healthy foods your child likes in temperature controlled containers will provide your child the nutrition needed to be an engaged learner without becoming sick from food borne illness.
To keep your child healthy-prepare nutritious lunches and pack them safely. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach partnered with 5th grade students to conduct a study to determine how long a sandwich in a lunch bag can stay safe. The trials showed the best way to keep a meat sandwich cold between leaving the house and eating lunch at school was to freeze the sandwich overnight and pack in an insulated carrier with two ice packs. Add frozen fruit cup without added sugar to keep food even colder.
Wondering what beverage to send with your child? Many popular beverages, even some labeled as juices, have high amounts of sugar. Low fat or skim milk, 100% fruit juice, low sodium juices or smoothies, and water are all smart beverage choices. Chocolate and strawberry mild should only be offered occasionally because of the high sugar content. Milk can be purchased at school for very low cost and will ensure your child has reached their optimal calcium intake for the day. This is also the best bet to be sure the milk is kept cold and the product is safe to drink
Read the publications linked below for more ideas and tips to pack lunches that are healthy and safe.

Iowa State University Extension Store Publications-
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