Our Better Nursery Food Now
- Better regulation for the food served to children in all early years settings;
- Better inspection to make sure nurseries stick to these rules;
- Better training in early years nutrition and cookery for nursery care and catering staff; and
- Accountability from one Government Department for nursery food, to provide better nursery food, now.
Young children are especially vulnerable to the long-term effects of poor diet and nutrition. Almost one in four children are overweight or obese by the time they start school, meaning they are more likely to develop serious health problems like heart disease or diabetes later in life.
Over 600,000 children in England and Wales go to nursery for up to ten hours a day. In many cases, nurseries are providing the majority of their daily food during the working week. These children deserve the same healthy nutritious food that is served in schools. Help us enable this change by supporting our campaign today.
Our campaign wants to see:
Mandatory standards for the quality of food served in all nurseries (not just the state maintained minority). These should restrict or forbid the same foods currently not permitted in schools, and should be based on established nutritional standards for young children (like the Caroline Walker Trust standards for under-fives. CWT standards for older children are the basis for the nutrient-based standards already in place in schools).
Rigorous criteria should be established for Ofsted (or Estyn in Wales) to inspect the quality of the food on offer in nurseries, as well as how the children are encouraged to learn about food and good food habits. Inspectors should be required to check food for its nutritional qualities, as well as taste and appearance. They should ideally share a mealtime with the children to assess the nursery’s ‘whole school’ approach to food and dining.
Funding and support is needed to develop qualifications and to train nursery staff in nutrition and key cookery skills. Without training, nursery staff are unlikely to have the skills or knowledge needed to improve nursery food in line with the new nutritional standards. All nursery managers and nursery cooks should be required to undertake training in basic nutrition for under-fives.
The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) should take responsibility for nursery food. They would be accountable for improving nursery school food, and be obliged to report regularly on progress made in this area.