“Children benefit from very healthy and nutritional meals and snacks which are prepared and presented attractively to encourage children to eat a variety of different foods. At snack time, the childminder washes blue berries and the child devours them eagerly. Children’s enthusiasm for making healthy choices and learning more about where their food comes from is greatly encouraged. For example, they sow vegetables and fruits from seed and look after them in the garden. Children pick vegetables from the garden that is used in the preparing their lunch and talk about fruits and vegetables. Meals are social occasions where the children and childminder sit together to encourage positive social interaction. Children enjoy mealtimes because time is given for them to savour, smell and enjoy their food. Children eagerly look at the steamed fish with vegetables served at table, enjoying the aroma of the food and talking about the different colours of cubed vegetables on steam fish whilst eating. They decide the amount they wish to eat to encourage their independence, for example young children are encouraged to feed themselves at meal times. Children are able to help themselves to drinks throughout the day and enjoy a range of fresh fruit, vegetables and organic finger foods at snack time. The childminder is very aware that children need to drink plenty of water throughout the day, and is vigilant about ensuring they always have a drink of water to hand. A daily diary containing details of the children’s food intake is given to parents each day.” Ofsted.
We strive to provide the children in our care with a healthy diet as we believe that it makes a significant difference to a child’s physical and mental health, both in the short and long term. Indeed, a well-balanced diet helps to prevent health problems frequently seen in children, such as obesity, constipation, anaemia and tooth decay. Growing evidence also shows that some food can also help cuts and bruises heal quickly, boost children’s immune systems or ease symptoms of allergies like asthma or eczema. A healthy diet can help reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and some cancers in later life.
We realise that working in partnership with you about what and when your child/children eat can lead to optimal nutritional growth and development for them. Therefore we have devised and implemented a food policy that explains when and what food we provide for your child/children whilst they are in our care. We take into account the children’s individual needs such as age and diet requirements when planning our menus. If your child suffers from an intolerance or allergy, we will require you to provide us with a statement from your GP or paediatrician about which allergens to avoid. We require an allergy action plan for all children suffering from life-threatening allergies. Following the new allergen information rules (EU FIC), we state on our menu the allergens present in the food we serve. You can view the menu for the forthcoming week on the information board. It is also our policy to write what your child/children have eaten and the time that they ate in their daily report. If your child’s food contained any of the fourteen allergens listed in EU FIC, those will be ticked at the back. We realise that some parents prefer to discuss this verbally; therefore each family will be informed according to their individual preference.
As the foundations for good health and eating patterns are laid in the early years, we make it our duty to encourage good habits. We eat together at the table and make meals a social time. Our food is home made, using fresh products that are in season, usually organic and fair-trade. We only drink water during and between meals, except for breakfast and snack times for babies when we serve milk. We offer healthy snacks such as oat cakes, rice cakes, or bread-sticks with fruit and cheese. We make our own oat cakes and flapjacks with no added sugar. We usually bake a yoghurt cake for birthdays, to which we add coconut, fruit or chocolate chips (the latter being a favourite!). We strongly discourage parents/ carers from giving children unhealthy food such as crisps, sweets, gums, lollipops fizzy or soft drinks to bring to our setting.
As part of our investment in their future, we aim at developing children’s interest in food and cooking for themselves. We grow some of our vegetable and fruit with the children who then pick them and help prepare them for their meals. Not only do they help with food preparation on a daily basis, they also take part in a weekly cooking activity when they prepare, from scratch, something to take home or to eat at the setting for lunch or dinner. They have a huge variety of starters, main courses and desserts from cuisines from around the world to choose from and show you that there is more to children’s cooking than baking fairy cakes (and using cake mix!). Now, there is something for gourmets to look forward to!