Our ambition here in Newham is to ensure that every child has access to nutritious and affordable food to support their health, well-being and development. We know that giving children the best start in life is the most effective way to address health inequalities long term. With one in five children already overweight or obese before they start school, early years settings such as Children’s Centres, Nurseries and Childminders play a central role in supporting young children and their families to establish healthy eating habits to take with them into their school years.
The Early Start Nutrition team has worked with over 1000 early years staff and we have seen first hand their dedication and commitment to ensure children have the opportunity to learn about food, make healthy choices and create a positive environment to support readiness for school. Our Newham Community Nutrition Awards were an opportunity to see the impact of their work and shine a spotlight on some of the amazing projects that have been rolled out across the borough. For each award category we had a highly commended and a winner.
Nutrition Display Board of the Year – Winner Announced
The winner of the Nutrition Display Board of the year is Beckton and Royal Docks Children’s Centre. Congratulations! The whole team have used information from the nutrition training to develop a range of display boards that are engaging and easy to read with lots of take away tips for families.
There are always boards with nutrition and well-being information on display in the corridor at the Children’s Centre to ensure all families see the information. The centre work in partnership with other agencies and ensure their displays are in a waiting area for families when visiting the Health Visitors and also accessible to the families attending the private nursery, ensuring the reach is wide. The displays are updated on quarterly or bi-quarterly basis and the team recycle their displays and used them at other venues to mirror the information that is given to families, especially as some may not access all of their venues. Parents read the displays and will even take a photo so they can keep it as a reminder. As a result of the drinks display board staff noted that families had swapped some of their juice drinks for water which is linked to improved oral health outcomes. Well done to Beckton and Royal Docks Children’s Centre for sharing evidence based healthy eating messages with families.
The setting that has been highly commended is Amina and the team from Plaistow Children’s Centre who have created a number of eye catching display boards. Congratulations!
Nutrition Activity of the Year – Winner Announced
The winner of the Nutrition Activity of the Year is Apple Tree Nursery who deliver an array of gardening activities. Congratulations! The nursery recognise the importance of practical activities for children to learn about plants. Through these activities children understand where foods come from, what plants need to successfully grow and how to care for plants. Children at Apple Tree Nursery love to use gardening tools themselves and follow practitioners’ examples. Gardening enhances gross and fine motor development and the children feel responsible and very curious to check on the plants every day and water them properly.
The children love to observe the growth process and they are very excited, especially after weekends, when they find their plants have grown. Gardening is a great way for children to learn how to care for plants, understand life cycles and learn what different herbs and vegetables smell like. Through these activities the staff have been able to engage children’s senses and encourage healthy eating. Every autumn the nursery organise a Harvest Festival for all children to summarise the knowledge gained during gardening and other nursery / home activities. At the harvest festival children can taste salads, herbs and vegetables which they helped to grow in the garden. Last year children learnt songs and poems about vegetables, singing and dancing during the celebration. Each child could choose which vegetable, fruit or berry they wanted to be at the festival. Parents helped to prepare costumes and various art figures and characters made of vegetables and fruits for the Harvest Festival Exhibition. Children and their parents demonstrated great creativity and originality while creating costumes and autumn exhibits. Well done to Apple Tree nursery for encouraging the next generation of little green fingers.
The setting that has been highly commended is Honey’s Childcare. Honey has embedded the importance of a healthy balanced lifestyle in the children she looks after as well as their families and staff members. Congratulations.
Well-being Initiative of the Year – Winner Announced
The winner of the Well-being Initiative of the year is Elzbieta and everyone at Flower Girl Childcare who deliver a range of well-being activities from cooking sessions to educational visits to the supermarket. The team are particularly passionate about ensuring children and their families take part in a range of activities which are planned with the Department of Health recommendations in mind. Following Elzbieta’s attendance at the Keeping Active in the Early Years Training information was shared with the parents and children on the importance of physical activity and as a result parents began to understand the importance of outdoor play, even when it’s cold.
The setting have many activities such as morning gym class, afternoon yoga, and going outside as much as possible for 2-3 hours. Elzbieta encourages active travel to her setting by promoting the use of a bike/scooter instead of a car. Even the younger children who are two years old arrive at the setting with their scooters. Some parents have also taken up the choice for themselves and arrive together with the children on their own scooter/bike.
A few families changed their drop off times to earlier so their children can participate in the 08:15 am gym class, as they have seen what a great impact it has on their children. One child who continued onto school has found a love in gym and is currently in a gymnastics class. Elzbieta encouraged the families to try one of Change4Life’s 10 minute shake ups and the feedback that she received is that children and parents alike enjoy this thoroughly. One of the parents mentioned that they have also implemented this in their own office. Well done to Elzbieta and Flower Girl Childcare for encouraging the next generation of young Newham athletes.
The setting that has been highly commended is Abida Bobat from St Stephen’s Children’s Centre. Congratulations to Abida who delivers interactive cooking sessions for parents and children discussing key messages on how to prepare healthy meals from scratch.
Outstanding Baby Friendly Environment – Winner Announced
The winner of Outstanding Baby Friendly Environment is Alphabet House Nursery, East Ham. They are a baby friendly setting and encourage all their baby room parents to breast feed their children at least for a year. They described a parent who worked close to the nursery who would breastfeed her baby during her break time. She found this very supportive for both her and her baby at the same time. They encouraged other parents who cannot come and breastfeed to provide expressed milk so both baby and parent can still benefit from it. The baby room are familiar with the process for sorting expressed milk.
The nursery have displayed information on breastfeeding on their healthy eating board and also in baby room as well. This has proved very beneficial for parents as they are now more knowledgeable about breastfeeding and understand the benefits of it. The nursery have updated their food policy by adding a baby friendly statement.
Staff are also confident in supporting families to safely offer first infant formula and how to prepare formula safely and correctly in the setting. A staff member has attended bin the bottle training and has started to educate parents on how to introduce beakers when their little ones are six months and stop the bottle when the child is 1 years old and baby room parents now demonstrate a better understanding of this.
The nursery work with the health visiting team and encourage families to speak to their health visitor or midwife in the first instance for questions relating to breastfeeding or formula feeding. Well done to Canberra Baby Room in creating a positive baby friendly environment.
The setting that has been highly commended is Mokslikhas Nursery who support families with the safe and appropriate introduction to solid foods. Congratulations!
Menu of the Year – Winner Announced
The winner of Menu of the Year is Little Amber Nursery! Little Amber nursery achieved the Early Start Nutrition Award – Bronze back in July 2019. They put in so much time and energy in reviewing and developing their menus to bring them in-line with the Eat Better Start Better voluntary food and drink guidelines. Giedre their deputy manager lead on updating their menus and I must say that this took a lot of emailing back and fourth with me, so I think she should probably also receive an award for her most patient practitioner of the year! I was also fortunate enough to visit their setting last year to complete their validation visit and I was so impressed with their whole mealtime set up.
As many of you will know, lunch and tea can sometimes feel like feeding time at the zoo, however the environment at Little Amber was relaxed, sociable and encouraging and genuinely one of the smoothest operations I’ve seen during my time here in Newham. Little Amber Nursery also work hard to promote health and wellbeing topics, such as breastfeeding, vitamin requirements and nutritious snacks & drinks.
Well done to Early Start Education whose menus were highly commended. Families have commented on how much their children enjoy meals at the setting. All staff completed the Menu Planning training which really demonstrates the importance they place on providing children with a range of nutritious food!
Practitioner of the Year- putting nutrition at the heart of their practice
And the winner of practitioner of the year is Koli Miah. Congratulations Koli! Koli is dedicated to promoting healthy eating at Rebecca Cheetham Children’s Centre and has taken the lead to become the face of Health and Nutrition. Koli has taken this part of her role very seriously and has embraced healthy eating, incorporating it into her personal life.
She has supported staff with training where needed and is also at hand to share vital information to families. Koli has been an inspiration to all staff at Rebecca Cheetham Children’s Centre. Koli has made the Children’s Centre environment very informative to promote healthy eating and regularly updates display boards with information about Healthy Eating in a creative and attractive way.
Colleagues have said that since Koli was named the ‘Healthy Choices’ person at the Children’s Centre she has gone above and beyond to ensure the whole centre follow healthy eating practices and to ensure that children and their families make healthy food choices and understand the importance of keeping active.
Koli has supported the team to submit work to evidence the changes the centre have achieved and this has been rewarded as the centre achieved the Early Start Nutrition Bronze and Silver award. Koli is also supporting childminders in her area to expand their nutrition knowledge. Congratulations to Koli being the champion of healthy eating for children families and staff.
The practitioner that has been highly commended is Abida Bobat, St. Stephen’s Children’s Centre. Abida has been described as motivated and highly energetic with her passions for promoting health and nutrition to parents and children by delivering weekly healthy cooking sessions
Outstanding Nutrition Provision- Winner Announced
Congratulations to Little Diamonds Nursery, winners of the Outstanding Nutrition Provision of the Year! The nursery put healthy eating at the heart of their practice on a daily basis. A passion for a healthy environment is evident from all staff from management, to early years practitioners and the cook. All staff members have attended one or more nutrition training sessions and it is reflected in the compassion they show when talking to children and families about health and wellbeing. Little Diamonds were the first setting to achieve the Early Start Nutrition Bronze and Silver awards and currently working towards achieving Gold.
The nursery excel in all areas of health and wellbeing. They have excellent seasonal menus which are fully in line with the Eat Better Start Better Guidelines. They have created an engaging eating environment supporting children to make choices while develop their enjoyment of mealtimes.
Other areas of success include:
- increasing awareness of best drinks and snacks for families through display boards and conversations with families. This helped to reduce the intake of sugar and improve dental health
- promoting a Baby Friendly approach across their setting and increasing the access to evidence based information for breast feeding and bottle feeding families
- supporting families to access evidence based information by using the knowledge from their training and signposting families to Health Care professionals
- Little Diamonds promote Healthy Eating through their policies and with parents at their daily feedback sessions.
The setting that has been highly commended is the Flower Girl Childcare. Congratulations to Elzbieta who is an inspirational childminder. Her years of experience, combined with her motivation for providing the best possible service for her families mean she excels at what she does.