Packing Healthy and Safe Lunches

younger girl at school eating an applePacking healthy and safe food and snacks is an important part of return to school planning for your child. Children who eat well can focus longer and are ready to learn at school and eating well and staying hydrated is important to help fight off illness.

Here are some things to keep in mind if your child is returning to classroom learning:

At Home:

  • Wash hands before and after preparing and handling food.

  • Wash and disinfect surfaces before and after preparing and packing food.

  • Use an insulated bag with a freezer pack or thermos to keep food cool. Chill milk or freeze drinking water to help keep food cool.
  • Pack food choices that are ready to eat and don’t need to be reheated.
  • Use a wide mouth thermos to keep hot food hot. Pre-heat thermos with hot water before filling.
  • Wash all vegetables and fruits well under cool, running water before use.
  • Pack food that your child can eat without help from others.
  • If using a re-usable lunch bag or containers, make sure to wash them daily with hot, soapy water.
  • Label containers, bottles, lunch bags and reusable utensils with your child’s name.
  • Do not reuse plastic bags – they can hold bacteria.

child opening school lunch bag filled with healthy foodAt School:

  • There will be no access to appliances like microwaves, toasters or kettles at school.

  • New practices will be put in place regarding access to water fountains. Students should bring a full reusable water bottle labelled with their name that can be refilled throughout the day.

  • Some schools may not have cafeteria food services or lunch programs (pizza, sub day, etc) at this time.
  • There may be new policies or protocols in place about leaving school during lunch or recess to purchase food.
  • Students may have to pack and bring home all garbage and waste.

Help your child understand they will need to:

  • Wash their hands before and after eating.

  • Sit down and stay seated while eating.

  • Remove their mask and store it in a paper bag, or on a clean surface while not in use.
  • Eat from a clean surface (e.g. cleaned and sanitized table tops, an open lunch bag, on a clean tea towel, paper towel or placemat, etc).
  • Avoid sharing food, drinks, straws, containers or utensils with others.

Healthy Eating Tips:

  • Use the Eat Well Plate to help build meals that follow Canada’s Food Guide.

  • Choose whole grains, fruits and vegetables and protein foods.

  • Include vegetables or fruits for every meal and snack.
  • Plan and prepare snacks and meals ahead of time to help limit use of processed foods that are high in sugar, sodium and saturated fat.
  • Choose water as the drink of choice.
  • Involve your kids with choosing and preparing food.

Helpful links:


Apapted with permission from Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit

Last Updated: August 31, 2020