Kathryn Munden, Rainbows Nursery, Swinton, Greater Manchester
We’ve always been passionate about nutrition, and so when we first heard about the EYNP the whole team really wanted to get on board with it.
In Salford, we do face lots of nutrition challenges. There are particular problems with dental health and we know we will have a lot of children in our care who don’t have a particularly healthy diet at home.
So for us, the EYNP naturally fitted in with everything we are trying to do to make life at the nursery healthy and also to support our families.
Face to face workshop training
We chose to do the face to face training because it was going to be difficult to commit the time to the Level 3 training, and that worked really well for us. The workshops made it all really simple, everything just fell into place!
And there was the added bonus that it brought a group of us together. nobody was working alone, and there was no pressure on one person to come and feed back to everybody else. Because three of us did it, we were all on the same page and we had enough momentum to come away and make changes.
It was really fun, it didn’t feel like work or laborious at all. There was a mix of reflecting on our own practice, practical exercises, and learning. It was all done in a very user-friendly way. We all came bouncing back in really excited about what we’d learned!
Changes to the menus
With our menus, Nicola first looked at what we were doing right and it was good to see that a lot of it was pretty good to start with! There were some bits that needed a bit more work. In some cases it was as simple as adding another ingredient, or taking away an unnecessary ingredient. And we looked quite a lot at sugar and salt content. There were some things on the menus that we knew weren’t great and were expecting to change. What was interesting was some of the things that we’d never even thought about! We made changes to our vegetarian diets to include non-meat based proteins. We addressed the balance of our menus as they were too heavily weighted towards carbohydrates. We also found out that the balance between our different menu weeks was a bit off, we had unintentionally ended up with a cheese week, and a meat week! So Nicola helped us make some swaps to ensure a balance.
Changes to mealtimes
One of the things Nicola complimented us on in our observation was how the team sit with the children when they are eating. But she encouraged us to start eating with the children too, and that has worked really well. She gave us lots of tips on how to make sure the language we are using around the children is right, and always thinking about how we are role models for them.
Working with Nicola
Working with Nicola is amazing. She has kept us on track with targets and things to work towards. At the same time she does understand that we are a busy nursery with lots of things going on, and she’s really supportive. She’s brilliant in that she’s so approachable. In the past when we’ve worked with external organisations you can find yourselves ending up hiding from them under the desk! We don’t have that problem with Nicola! You can just be honest with her and she helps us work around time challenges.
Bringing parents with us
We’ve been telling the parents about our work with the EYNP partly via Facebook which has been great for that. And we had the idea to bring Nicola to our parents evening which worked really well. She did a session on portion sizes that was great as we have parents with portion problems at both ends of the scale.
We have had some funny feedback from parents too. We heard that the children are now going home and telling the parents that they don’t want to eat certain things ‘because it’s not a healthy choice’!
It’s very tempting to look at other things before healthy eating, like special needs or literacy. There’s always something that seems to jump the queue in priorities. But I would say that for all those things, children’s eating behaviours link into them. Children’s health has an impact on concentration levels and behaviour, and when you start to understand it you learn that it all fits together. It’s very easy to say we can’t prioritise that, but it’s probably top of the list.
The EYNP difference
We have got so much out of working with the EYNP. It’s so easy to think that you can just get good caterers or a good chef, and you will be sorted. You might think that you can just download menus off the internet, but that simply doesn’t compare to doing this yourselves with the EYNP. The full package of support you get is amazing and it is so accessible and so easy to make changes because of the support of the nutritionist. We would absolutely recommend it to everybody.