After School Food Safety

foodThe kitchen, for food, is often the first place children go when they get home from school, but it’s not always the safest place. Millions of children become ill from the food they eat.

Here are some food safety recommendations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to share with children to help keep them safe after school. When coming home after school, kids can help prevent illnesses by following these recommendations:

  1. Place books, bags, and sporting equipment on the floor, not on eating counters or the kitchen table where germs could be transferred.
  2. Clean out lunch boxes and throw away perishable sandwiches or other “refrigerator type” foods, such as yogurt tubes or cheese sticks, left over from lunch.
  3. Wash your hands before you make or eat a snack. Hands carry lots of germs, and not washing hands is a top cause of foodborne illness.
  4. Always use clean spoons, forks, and plates.
  5. Wash fruits and vegetables with running tap water before you eat them.
  6. Do not eat bread, cheese, or soft fruits or vegetables that are bruised or have spots of mold.
  7. Do not eat unbaked cookie dough because it may contain raw eggs that can have Salmonella bacteria.
  8. Do not leave cold items, like milk, lunchmeat, hard cooked eggs, or yogurt, out on the counter at room temperature. Put these foods back in the refrigerator as soon as you’ve fixed your snack.
  9. Don’t eat any perishable food left out of the refrigerator, such as pizza — even if it isn’t topped with meat. Food should not be left in the temperature “Danger Zone” of 40 to 140 °F for more than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature is 90 °F or higher).

Heating or cooking foods in microwave ovens can present food safety and personal safety challenges. Some foods do not heat evenly to destroy all bacteria that could be present. Keep these tips in mind:

  1. Read package directions carefully. An adult needs to tell children whether to use the minimum or maximum cooking time on food package directions.
  2. Use only microwave-safe cookware. Don’t put metal or foil-wrapped foods in the microwave. Never microwave food in cold storage containers, such as margarine tubs, cottage cheese cartons, or bowls from frozen whipped topping. The containers can melt and transfer harmful chemicals into the food.
  3. For more even cooking and to better destroy bacteria, cover a dish of food with a lid, plastic wrap, or wax paper. Turn up one corner to let excess steam escape while food is microwaving.
  4. Halfway through cooking, rotate food packages and dishes or stir food during microwaving — even if the oven has a turntable. This helps the food cook more evenly and safely.


New Features


As creator of “Can Do” Street I want to tell you about some of the new features we are planning for this blog for parents and teachers.

In late October we will be adding the following sections to the blog:

  • Teacher Stories – a place where teachers of children  3-7 years of age can share how they get positive results from using character/values curriculum or their own lesson plans to guide their students in making good choices about school behavior, manners, sharing, personal hygiene, personal safety, eating habits, playing fair, being a friend and disability sensitivity. This section is open to teachers from graded classes in public, private and parochial schools and teachers of special needs children in ungraded classes.
  • Parent Exchange – An opportunity for parents to exchange information on what works for them in helping their young children make good choices about managing anger, doing chores, interacting with siblings, demonstrating caring behavior, getting up and going to bed on time, dressing, personal hygiene, telling the truth, pet care, speaking respectfully, and table manners
  • Resource Center – links to programs, articles, camps and web sites for parents of children 3-7 years.
  • Home School – Parents who home school can share what curriculum and activities they use to help their children practice making good choices
  • After School – a forum for after school instructors, recreation staff, coaches, and camp counselors to share what is successful in helping young children make good choices when in their care.
  • Grandparents Know – grandparents share how to help grands make good choices

Thanks for visiting!  Please become a regular on “Can Do” Street by writing and sharing. Just send your stories, comments and resources to

By for now,



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