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MAKE BROWN-BAG LUNCHES `KEEPERS'

An apple for a baseball card, a carrot for a piece of gum, a sandwich for two licorice sticks - trading lunches is a temptation for every child. But parents can put a halt to insider cafeteria trading scandals by packing some fun in those familiar brown bags.

With a little creativity - and consultation with your children - hand-packed lunches can keep them away from their buddies' brown bags.Let your children be part of the lunch planning process. If they choose their own lunch menus and help to prepare them, they'll be more likely to keep their own. Include one of your child's favorite foods.

Some other suggestions from the experts at Swift-Eckrich, makers of ready-to-eat meats:

- Cut out comic strips and tape them to the outside of paper bags or to sandwich bags. Personalize paper bags with a special name stamp. You can also customize napkins, thermoses and plastic utensils.

- Write personal notes and place them in the bottom of the brown bag or lunch box. Include little-known trivia facts or jokes.

- Decorate your children's lunch bags or boxes with colorful, silly stickers. Throw in an extra sticker to brighten up school notebooks.

- Use cookie cutters in the shape of animals or your child's initials to make personalized sandwiches.

- Pick a foreign country and prepare food common to that country. For example, an Italian Flag sandwich could consist of turkey bologna and turkey salami (red), crusty bread and provolone cheese (white) and lettuce or pesto sauce (green).

Most important: When you've finished preparing your children's lunches, ask yourself, "Would I be happy with this lunch, or would I want to trade it?" An appetizing and creative noontime meal makes for a fun lunch period and ensures that your children won't be tempted by weaker brown-bag bids.

(For a colorful, free brochure with suggestions for original sandwich combinations, send a postcard with your name, address and ZIP code to: "Club Butterball's Ultimate Guide to The Club," Swift-Eckrich-Club Butterball, 4100 S. Laflin, Chicago, IL 60609.