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Nutrition, food safety important as kids head back to school

Getting healthy: See diet as a plan, not a restriction
Posted at 5:13 PM, Sep 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-08 16:14:59-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Whether you have a student that is heading back to school or they continue to do their work virtually, nutrition and food safety during the COVID-19 pandemic are more important now than ever before.

For many of us, all three meals of the day are eaten at home. And sometimes, in between each meal, a snack can be had. While snacking is not bad and quite normal, the Coastal Bend Food Bank's Kate Hilliard is urging people to find healthy alternatives.

"Having fruits and vegetables is great," she said. "We want those snacks and meals to be healthy because we know that eating healthier definitely brings more mental focus throughout the day."

Some parents will start pulling out the lunch boxes soon as many Coastal Bend school districts open their doors, funneling students into classrooms. With the threat of the novel coronavirus still around, food safety should be a top priority.

"We don't want foodborne illnesses to be one more concern in our minds," said USDA Food Safety Specialist Maribel Alonso.

The days of sending lunches for students in used grocery bags or the signature brown paper bag are over. Alonso said there is one type of vessel that lunches should be packed in so no foodborne illnesses can come about.

"Make sure that you have an insulated lunchbox," Alonso said. "It is important because that keeps the cold temperature inside."

Alonso said that any time food is sitting out for more than two hours, that is the perfecting breeding ground for bacteria. She also said that any fruits and vegetables that have been chopped or sliced must be put in the refrigerator within two hours.

The USDA has plenty of tips to avoid foodborne illnesses, but Alonso said the easiest way to do so is by following the four tips of food safety:

  1. Clean
  2. Separate
  3. Cook
  4. Chill

If you are able to follow those simple steps, avoiding foodborne illnesses is easy.