CHICOPEE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- If someone’s child is going to be back in the classroom at all this fall, lunchtime will likely look very different.

It's just another element parents are wondering about.

Western Mass News is getting answers from the experts at Parents Magazine about what you should expect and what you need.

“Getting back into the cafeteria is going to be strange,” said Melanie Wilk, food service director for Chicopee Schools.

Wilk is working on a plan to keep students and staff safe.

“Trying to figure out all the safety things with that and all the precautions we’re going to have to take,” she said. “We have a plan for each scenario.”

She discusses if kids will even be in the cafeteria.

“Well, we definitely know that more parents are going to be packing lunches in general because cafeteria buffets are closing,” she said. “The options will be much more limited in the cafeteria and parents also just want to control what their kids are eating and who touched it.”

Julia Edelstein, editor-in-chief of Parents Magazine, said many people may not realize that school lunches tend to be healthier than lunch from home.

“If you are making that transition for the first time, that is something to keep in mind that you really want to pack nutrition and protein and food. Something that will really nourish your kid and get them through the day.”

As parents pack up lunch, you also want to think about safety.

“I think the kids will be fine with a plastic bento box that’s a dishwasher safe that you can zap in your dishwasher or the microwave to kill germs,” she said. “Kids are going to be eating lunch most likely alone at their desks. And they are going to be the one touching it, so actually what I would say is the safety measure to keep in mind is to make sure everything is washable under high heat.”

Edelstein said to make sure you pack food your child can open on their own.

“So if you are packing a yogurt tube and a juice box that are hard to open and now you have the teacher coming over and putting their hands on your kids' lunch to open those things,” she said. “You would be surprised at how many things kids cannot open on their own. A bag of chips is really hard for a kid to open. So really look at that mechanism and then also if you buy your own little boxes and bags and even plastic Ziploc bags, those are really easy to open.”

Edelstein said it’s a good idea to pack either hand sanitizer in a lunch bag or washable wipes so kids can wipe up before and after lunch.

Copyright 2019 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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