Food Policy Guidance for Early Years Settings

What is a food policy?

A food policy for early years settings is a written document and a public statement, enabling you, your staff, children and their parents/carers to understand your commitment to the provision of healthy, balanced and nutritious food and drink. It’s an opportunity to highlight your settings eating environment and approach to learning about food.  A food policy is not simply there to outline your protocol to food hygiene/safety, other aspects should be considered, which we highlight below.


Why have a food policy in your early years setting?

A well-structured food and drink policy that has been developed in consultation with all staff, parents, careers and children is an effective way of ensuring that your settings children and their parents/careers receive consistent messages about healthy eating. Such consistent health messaging supports children in developing healthy eating habits from an early age which research shows positively influences a range of health and development outcomes for children later in life.

Creating a well devised food policy is something we consider as part of our Early Start Nutrition Award which supports your setting to achieve standards of nutrition excellence.  If you are working towards the award or considering signing up, here are our top tips to support you in completing some of Criteria 1- Menu and Food Policy.

 Our top tips when developing a food policy are to:

  • Consider an enthusiastic member of staff with an interest for health/well-being and the skills and experience to write, successfully plan and engage all staff, parents and children when writing the policy
  • Consider the terminology and word count within your policy, ensuring it is clear, co-ordinated and concise, worded in a way which will encourage both staff and parents or careers to read it but also understand your policy
  • Consider including more than information around your food safety and hygiene, you can also include your approach to the food and drink you provide, you’re eating environment as well as how you allow children to learn through food
  • Create opportunities for staff and parents or careers to feedback when developing your policy, through staff meetings and by creating feedback boxes for parents
  • Ensure your policy is user friendly and well structured, so staff and parents can clearly see your approach to different aspects of your food provision and learning about food
  • Use the Eat Better, Start Better guidelines as a guide to consider other additional information to include in your policy, such as your approach to supporting children with allergies or special dietary requirements
  • Develop timelines to review our policy – best practice is to review your policy annually
  • Consider how you will share the policy with staff (team meetings, inductions) and parents (registration, display boards, email, online portals)

What information to include in your food policy:

  • Information that covers all aspects of your settings approach to food and healthy eating
  • Information on how your policy is developed e.g. in partnership with children, parents and staff
  • Information on your food and drink provision
  • Infant feeding guidance e.g. weaning, breast or formula feeding
  • The mealtime environment and social aspects of mealtimes
  • Celebrations and special occasions
  • Management of food allergies and dietary restrictions
  • Policy on food brought in from home
  • Learning about food
  • Cooking with children
  • Food safety and hygiene
  • Sustainability
  • Protecting children’s health
  • Evaluation and review of your food and drink provision

Additional Resources

Book our Developing a Food Policy training to get a better understanding of what to include in your policy  as well as resources to support you in  creating a well-structured, user friendly written policy

1 Comment

  1. Ellie on October 11, 2021 at 2:33 pm

    Omg my child loves her meals thanks to this

Leave a Comment