Food guidelines policy
Guidance on Healthy Eating and food provision at the centreAt the Early Years we provide food and drink throughout the day for the children. This includes a morning snack, lunch and a light afternoon tea. This equates to approximately a third of the children’s daily diet. We ensure that this is balanced and nutritious whilst giving the children a wide variety of tastes.
As a guide to our planning we use the ‘Eat Better Start Better’ voluntary food and drink guidelines for Early Years Settings in England, this is published by the ‘School food trust’.
Our menu is planned by a qualified and experienced chef and we ensure that the food we provide is prepared and cooked from freshly purchased and seasonal ingredients. We use the four food groups to ensure that a variety of nutrients are included daily,
fruit and vegetables
protein sources such as fish, meat, eggs, beans and non-dairy sources of protein,
milk and dairy foods
Salt is not added to food and sugar is kept to a minimum.
The menu contains a variety of food from different cultures so that children experience different tastes, in addition we celebrate festivals from different cultures and religions.
Children are given mainly water and milk to drink; where juice is given it is diluted with at least 50% water. All the children are provided with fresh drinking water daily. Children between 2-5 years are able to access their water independently. Children from 6 months- 1 years are provided with freshly boiled and cooled water to drink daily. This water is changed for them after lunch and all boiled water is discarded within 24 hours. Children from 1-2 years are also provided with fresh drinking water and their water is also changed after lunch. Children from 6 months- 2 years are encouraged and offered water throughout the day by staff.
We take into account when planning the menus, children’s diagnosed allergies and a vegetarian meal is also available for those who cannot eat meat.
As well as being inspected by Ofsted, we have regular inspections from the Westminster Environmental Health team and all requirements are met to the highest of standards. All team members are trained in Food Hygiene awareness and we have a food handling policy for the staff. In addition several senior members are trained in Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points. (HACCP).
Allergies at the Early Years are recorded by parents on an allergies form when their child attends our three settling in days. We ask the parents to be as thorough as possible about their child’s condition and where possible provide some information from their GP in relation to their child’s allergies. All children will be provided with an individual food placemat which will contain this information. All allergies will be written in red and will also have the child’s most up to date photograph. Staff will be using the placemats when providing food at snack, lunch and tea. They will be checking the placemats for children with allergies alongside doing their mealtime check. This process will require a first and second signature by staff.
This information is updated when parents inform us of any changes or when the child is in the transitional process of moving to another room within the centre. Staff will require parents to sign and update their child’s allergy form to note that these changes in the allergies have taken effect. Alongside our allergies form parents will also be required to fill out a Health Care Plan form for their child. This form will provide us with the information on how to act if the child does have an allergic reaction whilst in our care. Parents will also have to provide us with the necessary medication in relation to their child’s allergies. Once this information has been obtained from the parent’s staff will pass this information to the kitchen where our chef will add the allergies into an allergy book. This book is kept in the kitchen at all times and is refereed to when cooking all meals. Staff are responsible for notifying the chef of any changes to the child’s allergies as and when needed.
The Eating Environment
Here at the Early Years we believe that meal times should be a positive and a social experience for all the children. All children wash their hands and sit at the table in an appropriate chair for their developmental level. Children are also provided with cutlery, plates and bowls and where needed the staff will be able to assist children who need help with their feeding. All the children and staff sit together and engage in positive talk about food and the benefits from it. The children in the 3-5 rooms help to set up the tables at meal times where they lay out the tables with cutlery, cups and placemats. This encourages the children to enhance their mathematical knowledge and develop challenging skills such as maths and subtraction. They also develop a sense of team work as they work together to solve how many cups or placemats they may need. The children are encouraged to engage with each other and topics of conversation can range from talking about food, what they did at the weekend or what they have enjoyed playing with during the day. Children are encouraged to make healthy choices and to try new foods that are on offer to them. Eating a healthy diet has its benefits throughout life and starting a healthy lifestyle during childhood can have long-term advantages. The children are guided with their portion control and where possible such as the older rooms are encouraged to serve themselves and help to serve each other at the table.