This school year will look unlike others you’ve experienced as a parent. But don’t fear. Here’s how to pack a lunch to eat in the classroom.

This images shows an empty classroom with chalk boards in the background.
Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

Parents are facing the next challenge in the pandemic: sending kids back to schools that will be very different than before. And for many, that means a school where lunch is eaten at social distanced desks in the classroom and things like water fountains are off limits.

This poses a challenge for schools, parents and for the kids eating the lunches. Eating will be different, cleaning will be different and overseeing lunchtime will be different.

So how do you pack a lunch to eat in the classroom?

The food

While you certainly hope your child is always a neat eater, spills happen. In the cafeteria, it’s easy to wipe down tables or grab paper towels to clean up. But in the classroom, while social distancing and with everyone eating at small desks, spills might not be as easily handled.

As you pack lunches, do consider the mess-factor of what you’re packing. Pudding cups, for instance, might not be as desirable as pudding pouches. Soups are fine for some but too sloppy for others. Leftover ribs might leave fingers far stickier than a kid in a classroom should be.

Take your child’s eating habits (ie: if you are constantly telling them to wipe their faces at dinner, they might need less-saucy lunches) and aim for lower-mess lunches. Sandwiches, for instance, can mean fewer spills (egg salad and chicken salad, notwithstanding). Cut up fruits or vegetables can be good for munching. And pouch-packed foods are almost mess-free.

Balance this goal to be mess-free with packing food your child loves. After all, you want them to eat well — that balanced lunch is essential to their growing brain.

The drinks

With many schools requiring masks and taking steps to help curb the spread of COVID-19, water fountains may not be in operation. Or, if they are, you might not want your child using them.

Regardless, though, staying hydrated is essential to health. So consider how you will send drinks to school so your child remains well-hydrated all day.

Plan to pack at least one water bottle (two is better and reusable is best!). And consider sending other drinks to supplement such as a juice box to drink with lunch.

Other items

Packing for school is more than about the food and drinks. While planning for how to pack a lunch to eat in the classroom remember to include any spoons, forks and butter knives they might need (disposable is fine). You’ll also need to include napkins. And a wipe for cleaning up their space is a nice touch too.

When you pack a lunch to eat in the classroom for kids during this unusual, unprecedented time, it’s a bit different than packing them in the past. But with a little planning, it will be okay.

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