Hackney leads the way in implementing healthy food and drink guidelines for early years services
An extra 2,200 children aged under five are set to benefit from a better diet after the successful roll-out of healthy food and drink guidelines in early years services in Hackney.
Over the last year, a total of 48 nurseries and children’s centres and 14 child-minders have implemented the Children’s Food Trust’s national ‘Eat Better Start Better’ voluntary food and drink guidelines for early years settings in England.
This pilot work has been funded and coordinated through the ‘Get Hackney Healthy’ initiative which was set up last year by Hackney Council to tackle child obesity through a range of initiatives aimed at children aged under five years and their families.
All participating early years providers received initial training from the Children’s Food Trust, a national charity which protects every child’s right to eat better, and so, to do better, with ongoing support provided by the Hackney Learning Trust and Homerton Hospital’s Dietetics service.
The Trust’s Eat Better Start Better guidelines help early years settings to deliver high standards of nutrition in the food and drink they serve to 1-5 year olds. Implementing the guidelines involved a thorough review of each setting’s menu and food policy.
Recommendations to the menus include increasing the amount and variety of fruit and vegetables provided, increasing the variety of protein and iron rich foods provided, particularly in vegetarian dishes, and reducing the sugar, fat and salt content in meals and snacks.
The 62 early years providers who have committed to implementing the guidelines were awarded certificates by Zaya Fullerton, from the Children’s Food Trust, at an event yesterday (25 June, 2015) at Hackney Town Hall, to celebrate their achievements and share good practice.
Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Hackney Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, who opened the event, said: “There has been an overwhelming commitment from early years services across Hackney to implement these guidelines. This commitment is going to be of real benefit to Hackney's children and families by providing the highest quality food and drink and supporting families to adopt healthy eating practices. I hope over the coming year we see all of Hackney’s children’s centres, nurseries and child minders adopt the guidelines.”
There has been an overwhelming commitment from early years services across Hackney to implement these guidelines. This commitment is going to be of real benefit to Hackney's children and families by providing the highest quality food and drink and supporting families to adopt healthy eating practices. I hope over the coming year we see all of Hackney’s children’s centres, nurseries and child minders adopt the guidelines.”
Zaya Fullerton, from the Children’s Food Trust, said: “It was wonderful to attend the event and hear from the practitioners who have made such great changes to the food they provide for the children in their care.
“With the skills and knowledge they’ve attained through this partnership, local children will reap the benefits of tasty, nutritious food now and for years to come.”
Magalie Morgan, the manager of Rosemary Works nursery, who took part in the project, said: “This training has been amazing, as a result we have changed our entire menu and redone our food policy. Our parents have been involved in the process and staff have made positive changes to their practice.
“As a manager I feel more educated about portion sizes for young children. The children are thoroughly enjoying the improved variety of foods and there is less waste. We are also finding that parents are also more satisfied with the new menus. It has been a real eye opener for us into healthy eating and giving children the best possible diet at nursery!”