Back-up lunch money

Back-to-school tips

September 01, 1999

Recently, we asked parents to share their ideas for making back-to-school go smoothly. Michele Nethken of Waterloo Elementary in Howard County writes:

"In the hustle and bustle of the morning, sometimes the children forget their lunch money or packed lunch. As an elementary school secretary, I spend time almost daily reassuring a child that they will get lunch even if they have forgotten the money, left the lunch on the bus or the carpool van's back seat.

"We have a wonderful PTA that provides an emergency fund. If a child borrows lunch money, he or she is given a reminder slip to bring the money back the next day. But sometimes that slip doesn't make it home and by mid-year our fund runs low.

"I'd like to suggest that, along with their school supplies, each child carry an envelope with one day's worth of lunch money -- maybe hidden in a special pocket in the backpack.

"Sit down with your child and explain: Sometimes we're busy and accidents happen and we forget the lunch. But we're preparing for it by carrying this emergency money. It is only to be used for an emergency. It is not snack money. (Kids will be kids!)

"If they don't buy their lunches, include a juice box and a snack to tide them over until they arrive home.

"This will save some children from panic and tears when they realize they forgot their lunch.

"My family has also gotten in the habit of placing our backpacks (with everything inside) by the front door after homework is completed in the evening. This saves a minute and some confusion in the morning."

If you have ideas to share, please send them to Reading by 9 Back to School, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278. Or email your suggestion to us at

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