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Obama administration offers free 'back to school' tips, including what to pack for lunch
Cars travel through a school zone in Topeka, Kan., on Monday Aug. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/The Topeka Capital Journal, Chris Neal)

Obama administration offers free 'back to school' tips, including what to pack for lunch

Parents who might be growing nervous about sending their kids back to school this fall have nothing to fear, as the Obama administration has reams of free advice for both parents and students — right down to what you should pack in your kid's school lunch.

This week, the Food and Drug Administration posted four different tips for a "healthy and stress-free lunchbox," although much of the advice seems like a lot of hard work.

School is coming back and the government is here to get you through it. (AP Photo/The Topeka Capital Journal, Chris Neal)

"Start by planning your family's meals for the whole week," FDA said. "If that task is too daunting, start smaller by planning lunch for a day or two and progress from there. Duplicate that meal plan for the next week and build on it."

"You have to have a strategy for a healthy life, week by week," advises Leila Beker of FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. She advises starting with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fiber, and dairy and protein.

FDA also advises that people use MyPlate to plan their meals. MyPlate is the Agriculture Department's nutrition guideline website, which also lets people sign up for daily emails about how to eat better.

FDA also says parents should think about smaller portions for kids. "Think quarter-cups, tablespoons and half-sandwiches, depending on your child’s size, age and activity level," it says.

Oh, and read those food labels, FDA warns.

After absorbing all those nutrition guidelines, the administration's Department of Education has a bunch of advice about how to "build a positive relationship with your child's teacher."

"It's a good idea to let your child's educator know you want to partner with him or her, and share the responsibility for your child’s academic growth," the department says.

The department gives out five basic pieces of advice, all of which end in exclamation points and presumably should be shouted:

"Keep in touch!"

"Mark your calendar!"

"Reach out!"

"Stay informed!"

"Team up!"

The Department of Education also offers a Parent Power Booklet, a 32-page filled with checkmarks and other graphics.

Still not enough? If you live in Georgia, Alabama or Tennessee, you may have a chance to meet Education Secretary Arne Duncan and other senior officials on their back-to-school bus tour.

"This bus tour through Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama is an opportunity to see innovation in education at work and discuss progress, promise and results," Duncan said. "I look forward to meeting with teachers, parents, students and education leaders who have been our partners in making progress for our nation's children."

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