In this months blog we’ve decided to focus on a few of the key considerations for your early years settings as the new term gets underway.
Take a look at your menus
Now is a great time to reflect on how your menus are working. Speak to staff to find out whats working well and think of ways to improve or make changes. Does your menu meet the Eat Better Start Better menu checklist?
Need support with your menus? Our Menu Planning training has been developed by our expert team of registered nutritionists, especially for early years settings. The online training is only £30!
Display your menu for families to see
Share your menus with parents and carers as it will support them to continue to provide a balance of meals and snacks at home.
It will also prevent children being offered the same foods at home that were served in your setting that day.
Consider having a feedback box, so parents can leave their comments and suggestions for you.
Update you Food Policy and encourage all families to read
It is important for all early years settings to have a Food Policy. They can help to influence the food and drinks brought into your setting, while also highlighting your approach to promoting the health and wellbeing of the children in your care.
- Ensure your Food Policy covers information on key topics such as your approach to allergy management, food provision and menus, food safety and hygiene and how you support children at mealtimes.
- Remember your Food Policy should be simple, clear and distributed to all staff and parents.
- Need support in writing your Food Policy? Book our Association for Nutrition certified Food Policy Training for early years settings
Provide families with information and tips on providing a healthy packed lunch (if applicable)
With the free 30 hours now in place more children are expected to bring packed lunches. Many of the early years settings we work with voice concern over the foods provided in children’s packed lunches.
- Use your Food Policy to clearly highlight to parents the types of foods and drinks you encourage them to provide in their packed lunch.
- Give families healthy lunch box ideas by creating a display board with pictures, recipes and top tips.
- Signpost families to relevant websites and resources for further information and ideas. First Steps Nutrition have a fantastic lunch box picture guide
- It’s important that families try to vary what they put inside their child’s lunchbox. Like us adults, children get bored of eating the same food. Mix things up to keep it interesting and add a touch of creativity where possible.
Consider your dining environment
It’s important to consider the dining environment and how mealtimes run in your setting. Consider the some of the below points:
- Are children involved in the set up of mealtimes? For example, do they help set the table?
- Is the dining environment inviting? For example, do you use placemats, table cloths, artificial flowers?
- Do staff sit with children and role model by eating the same food? Do they engage children in discussion?
- Are children encouraged to serve food themselves and pour their own drinks?
- How are fussy eaters supported?
For more information on creating a supportive mealtime environment for children, complete our online Menu Planning training!