Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Avoiding Hungry Bus Kid Syndrome

This morning my middle child posed a strange question, "Mom, if I have any leftovers from my lunch, do you mind if I give them to the hungry girls?" I followed up on this, "What do you mean hungry girls?" My daughter's explanation: apparently there are a couple of girls that go kid-to-kid on the bus asking for food. "They'll even eat the stuff you drop," offered my daughter. Lovely.

We're not talking malnourished girls here, just energetic elementary schoolers whose last meal was before recess at 11:30am. The situation got me thinking about how to pack my kids' lunches not only for lunch, but also for potential bus hunger pangs later. As a result my kids’ lunches underwent a bit of a redesign.

Pack in layers. Just like you dress in layers on breezy days to be prepared for a variety of weather, pack for a variety of hunger levels. Some days your kids will be ravenous, other days they’ll have problems finishing a mini-bagel. You don’t want them to waste food so offer some fillers that can last through the week. If they don’t eat it Monday, it’ll still be good on Friday. Granola bars work well.

Put in plastic. Instead of baggies, stash snacks in small plastic containers. That way, if your son doesn’t finish his Goldfish, they won’t be crushed by the time he’s hungry for them later.

Go for snacks with longevity. Pretzels, baby carrots, Twizzlers, Fiber One bars (I’m told that’s a “hungry girl” fav) won’t go bad if your kids don’t eat them right away.

I’m not encouraging eating on the bus (which I’m told isn’t allowed--but the bus driver doesn’t mind), just that I want my kids to have enough food at school to keep their energy up throughout the day. And I don't want them combing the ground on the bus floor for snacks!


  1. Baby girl isn't on the school bus quite yet, but my nieces and nephews would definitely benefit from this post! I'm forwarding to my SILs right now...

  2. This is a really, really great idea.

  3. These are good suggestions though (and sorry if this sounds cranky) I don't let my kids eat goldfish or pretzels or twizlers. I read the ingredients of some of this stuff and cringe. I say go for healthier snacks like chunks of organic cheese, grapes, cut up apples, and other whole foods...

  4. I used to try to police what my kids ate at school--opting for only fresh, healthy snacks, but I found one too many rotting bananas in the bottom of my kids' backpacks not to augment the fresh foods with the old standbys. I figure my lunch used to be full of white bread, potato chips and cupcakes so I've at least improved on the health content for my kids!

  5. Okay, so, don't laugh but these suggestions are also quite good for grown-ups (me!)!