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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Pack heaping helping of safety into your lunch

Packing a lunch every day has never been an easy task for me. First, I have to figure out ahead of time what I will want to eat. Then, I have to persuade myself to actually eat that nice, healthy, packed lunch instead of running off to buy a hamburger dripping with cheese and fatty goodness.

When I do pack my lunch, I have to admit that food safety has never entered my mind as I’m throwing whatever leftovers from the night before into my bag.

Neither do I worry once I get to work and forget about those leftovers for three hours, before it dawns on me to put them in the refrigerator.

Good thing for me that September is National Food Safety Education Month.

According to the Partnership for Food Safety Education, there are some easy steps to follow when packing a lunch for yourself, or for the kids as they head off to school.

The first step is fairly basic: Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after you prepare food. While you are at it, wash all of your fruits and vegetables, too.

Get an insulated lunchbox to keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.

Freezer gel packs and frozen juice boxes can help to keep foods cold, and an insulated bottle works well to keep soups hot. Anything you don’t eat for lunch – such as meats, egg sandwiches or anything with mayonnaise on it – should be thrown away. Don’t save it for the drive home.

The last step is to keep lunches packed the night before, in the refrigerator. Food should never be left out on the counter for more than two hours.

For more information about food safety, visit

The site also includes some healthy after-school snacks ideas for you and the kids.

Kids bike races

Group Health Cooperative is presenting its Kids Bike Race Series for kids ages 6 through 11.

The next opportunities to participate will be Sept. 25 at Mirabeau Meadows Park, 13500 E. Euclid Ave., Spokane Valley, and Oct. 2 at Audubon Park on Northwest Boulevard and Milton.

Children 6 years old will start at noon, kids 7 years old will race at 12:10 p.m., and kids ages 8 through 11 will start in 20 minute intervals after that.

The afternoon will include safe cycling tips, bike safety checks, and the kids can learn some stretching exercises from Group Health physical therapists.

There will also be prizes and ribbons and a drawing to win a free bike from REI and a helmet.

To register, or for more information, call the Group Health Resource line at (800) 992-2279, e-mail, or register in person at REI, 1125 N. Monroe St. or the Downtown YMCA, 507 N. Howard St.

All participants must have a parent or guardian sign release forms at the site. And don’t forget to wear your helmets.

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