Back to school lunch ideas for students

Here are resources to plan and pack your child’s lunch box.

FLORIDA, USA — As Tampa Bay students head back to the classroom, meal planning is likely top of mind for parents. 

Packing the lunch box with some variety may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! 

The Florida Department of Agriculture has samples of lunch menus for students in K-8 and 9-12 that represent a balanced meal. 

According to FDACS, schools’ current meal standards “align school meals with the latest nutrition science and MyPlate recommendations to ensure students are offered daily servings of fruits, vegetables, and fat-free and low-fat milk, as well as more whole grains to meet weekly requirements.” 

Meals listed in the FDACS sample menus include the following components: 

  • Meat/Meat alternatives
  • Grains
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables

The website bon appetit offers 71 “easy to make” school lunch ideas that you can pack for your student. KidActivities.com also offers 15 school lunch ideas for students. 

Students across the Tampa Bay area are starting school this week. This school year looks a lot different than 2020 when students were attending school virtually during the pandemic. However, students are still given the option to attend school remotely for the 2021-2022 calendar year.

Here’s a look at what day students around the Tampa Bay area will return to school:

  • Citrus County Schools 
  • Hardee County Schools
  • Hernando County Schools
  • Highlands County Schools
  • Hillsborough County Schools
  • Manatee County Schools
  • Pasco County Schools
  • Polk County Schools
  • Sarasota County Schools

As the pandemic persists in the state of Florida, some school districts have updated their mask policy for students and staff.

Hillsborough County Schools leaders will require students to cover their faces unless their parents opt-out. Masks are highly recommended but optional for employees.

In Pinellas County Schools, masks and face coverings are optional for students, staff and visitors, but are strongly encouraged, the school system said in a statement to 10 Tampa Bay over the weekend.

Masks are also optional at Sarasota County Schools. The school district strongly encourages unvaccinated individuals to wear face masks, but this is not mandated, according to the school district

Check with your school district for the latest mask update.

While schools decide how to implement masks in school, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he would work to protect Floridians’ right to work and the rights of kids to attend school in person. The governor has voiced his objection to another mask mandate for students and school employees.

Students and teachers will also need a boatload of school supplies to get them through the school year. The tax-free holiday ends at the end of the day, Aug. 9.

RELATED: Where to get free or discounted back-to-school shoes in the Tampa Bay area

RELATED: Back-to-school safety checklist for parents concerned about COVID-19 and the delta variant