Back to school is just around the corner. Most families are focusing on school supplies, carpooling, and balancing homework time. At the same time, school staff, teachers, and administrators are focusing on getting classrooms ready and lunches planned. One thing that can get overlooked by both parents and staff is school food safety.
There are a couple different ways that schools have to focus on food safety—this includes the food they serve and making sure food allergies are considered. Here are a few tips for school food safety:
First, schools can should be careful with their food prep and storage. NCCO has a label kit built specifically for schools: the RSCHOOLKIT. This kit features Monday-Friday removable labels along with a roll of “Use First” labels. The most important part of food safety in schools is to create a food safety culture. That means encouraging as much education as possible for anyone involved in school nutrition programs, or creating a program for school cafeteria inspections specifically.
Food safety in schools doesn’t just mean school provided lunches. Many students bring bag lunches. Bacteria can grow at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure to use cold packs to keep things cold and insulated containers for warm food.
Another thing to consider is classroom food safety. Food allergies are becoming more and more common and can be life threatening for both kids and adults. Here are a few tips to consider when it comes to classroom food safety:
- Classrooms can be Food-Free
- It might be the easiest route to just keep all food out of the classroom. That way, no one has to worry or think about what’s allowed in and what’s restricted.
- Restrict Identified Allergens from Classrooms
- If snacks aren’t taken out of the classrooms completely, it needs to be well-known by all students, teachers and parents which foods are dangerous allergens. Those foods must be restricted from snacks, parties or other activities.
- Find Fun & Inclusive Ways to Celebrate
- It’s a wonderful gesture to bring treats and snacks into the classroom for parties and holidays, but that gesture can marginalize or be dangerous to some kids. Instead, try extra recess or celebrate with games and free time.
- Educate Your Kids
- Inclusion and acceptance can go a long way in helping any child adapt. If everyone knows that there are just some foods that are dangerous for their classmates, understanding and recognition can happen.
With these tips and tricks, as well as NCCO’s food safety labels, parents, students, and school staff can focus on having a great school year instead of worry about food sickness!