Early years food

Our eating habits are formed at a very young age, so the choices, tastes and nutritional quality of the food offered to infants and young children has a far reaching effect on their food preferences and health later in life.

With one in five children now overweight or obese by the time they start school, we need to focus our efforts on making sure children in their early years are offered appropriate portions of fresh, nutritious, appetising food whilst attending formal day care placements.

We know that when it comes to tackling and preventing diet related ill-health, early intervention is important. Early years day care settings have an opportunity to play a key role in encouraging children to make healthy food choices as they grow up.

Join us in our work to improve early years food

Our Food for Life Catering Mark has transformed meals for hundreds of nursery children in the UK. There are already 300 nurseries who are serving meals to Catering Mark Standards.

Current national guidance

In 2011 an Advisory Panel on Food and Nutrition in Early Years, led by the Department for Education, produced a report called Laying the Table. The report highlighted the importance of making food and drink provision a statutory component of the DfE’s Early Years Strategy. The Voluntary Food and Drink Guidelines For Early Years Settings In England were developed following the recommendations in Laying the Table and now all early years settings are encouraged to comply with these guidelines.

Previous Soil Association work on food and early years