Meal and snack times are an important part of the service we offer, and an enjoyable part of the children’s day. The purpose of this policy is to inform parents about the food provided to children, how it is prepared, and the nutritional guidelines we follow.
There are three weekly menus which are rotated, and seasonally adjusted. We do try to be flexible with regard to seasonal produce and sometimes parents bring in special treats or a cake when a child has a birthday, so occasionally we will make a change to an item on the menu and this may be at short notice. This may also happen if items on our shopping delivery are unavailable.
We cater for babies who are weaning, where we provide pureed vegetables or fruit, moving to ‘lumpy’ and finger food.
The nutritional guidelines for children are quite different to those of adults, and parents are asked to understand that this is reflected in our menus. For children, full fat milk and other products are preferable to reduced fat variants, and the requirements for carbohydrates for energy is higher than for adults.
Cooking and baking simple meals and cakes is enjoyable and instructive for older children in the nursery, and we encourage this. Children themselves will sometimes prepare part of the teatime meal, for example fairy cakes or pizzas. Cookery activities can incorporate practice in mathematics and self care, for example in measuring or counting ingredients and reinforcing the importance of handwashing, etc. Children also feel a sense of pride in making a meal for their peers, or taking cakes or biscuits home with them.
We can accommodate a variety of diets in the nursery, for example vegetarian, vegan, lactose intolerant, various allergies, and religious specifications. No extra charge is levied for this. Parents’ comments and suggestions regarding the food we provide, or their child’s preferences, are always welcome.
We record children’s allergies and food preferences in the nursery kitchen and this is updated regularly for staff to refer to. Each child with an allergy has their own specific table mat, coloured coded plate and either a red apron or red lanyard if it is an allergy.
Food is prepared on the premises by our permanent cook. In her absence, trained staff members take over this duty. Staff are provided with health and safety training with regard to food preparation and storage. Fridge and freezer temperatures are monitored each day, and food temperatures taken and recorded before serving.
We provide breakfast (cereal, porridge, toast etc) for children arriving between 7.30am till 8.10am, with breakfast ending promptly at 8.15am. Lunch and tea are always two course meals, but lunch is generally more substantial than tea, since many children eat at home in the evenings as well as at nursery. We also serve a mid morning snack of either fresh fruit, breadsticks, dried fruit etc served with milk or water.
Children are encouraged to drink water throughout the day; each child has a named cup or bottle in their rooms to drink when they need to, we ask you to provide this cup/bottle so the children know which one is theirs.
The nursery has some general rules about the meals we provide, and the ingredients we purchase.
- We don’t buy ‘economy’ ranges of burgers and sausages etc since the quality of the meat they contain can be so poor and from questionable sources.
- The majority of meals are homecooked, with processed foods kept to a minimum.
- At snack times, children are given milk.
- We don’t add extra salt to food, but use flavourings such as herbs and garlic.
- We don’t add sugar to cereals, etc.
- The nursery’s shopping is done weekly to ensure a quick turnaround on the storage of food items and to ensure fruit and vegetable products are fresh.
- In the light of government guidelines regarding generally poor consumption of fruit and vegetables in the UK diet, our aim is that a child attending a full day at nursery will obtain at least the recommended minimum of five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, and often more.
- Additionally, in the light of government guidelines and a wide range of scientific and medical studies, there is now significant evidence that processed and cured meats such as bacon, ham, salami etc can be considered carcinogenic and consumption should be restricted or avoided. In the interests of children’s health we have therefore removed processed meat products from the nursery’s menus. We have also cut back on meat in the meals served, and many of our meals will be vegetarian, or use substitutes such as Quorn, etc. Some of our standard meals will contain meat, and some will not. The focus of our ingredients will be on home cooked food, using unprocessed products as far as possible, with lots of vegetables, grains and fruit.
- As far as possible, we avoid GM products and peanut products, although it is not possible to guarantee all purchases are GM or nut free.
- We encourage the children to be independent at lunch and tea time. The children sometimes serve their own lunch/vegetables depending on what is being served. The children also pour their own drinks at snack time.
- Where it is not obvious on a menu that a dish contains vegetables, for example chicken curry, spaghetti bolognaise, shepherds’ pie, etc parents should be aware that such dishes are always supplemented with mixed vegetables in the sauce so that children receive extra vegetables at each meal.
Parents’ comments about the food provided, and of course their own children’s preferences, are always welcome.
Revised May 2022
By: Michelle Sharp
Adopted as the policy of the nursery
By: Jacquelin Curtis Director,
Activeplay Nurseries Ltd