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Back-to-School Supply Checklist

There’s a certain week when you know the summer is over. It’s when you start seeing the school supply section take over your grocery and department stores. Parents and children, clutching supply lists, cautiously circle the stacks of paper, notebooks, markers and backpacks as they make their selections.

Infographic on back-to-school food safety tips.

How to find a safe lunch box

For many children, the highlight of school supply shopping is buying their lunch box. As you guide them in their choice, make sure that it will keep their lunch safe:

  • Look for an insulated lunch box or bag with enough room for two cold sources to keep the food safe inside.
  • Make sure it is easy to clean both inside and out. You’ll want to wash all reusable food storage containers that go in the lunch box or bag with hot, soapy water after each use.  
  • If it comes with a thermos, test it when you get home to make sure it will keep foods piping hot (above 140 degrees) until lunch time.

While you’re at the store, pick up some extra ice packs or cold sources. Buy enough to keep extras in the freezer.  Talk to school administration to be sure they are allowing time for children to wash hands with soap and water before and after eating.

For more information on packing safe lunches see: Keeping "Bag" Lunches Safe.

Have more questions? We can help!

If you have additional food safety questions, call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or chat live with a food safety specialist at, available from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, in English or Spanish. You can also follow @USDAFoodSafety on Twitter to receive daily tips and information on recalled food.


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Posted in: Food Safety | SchoolTagged: Back to School | Lunch