Lisa Whitehouse, Owner, Tender Years Day Nursery
So, we have just begun the start of our second year with the Early Years Nutrition Partnership and it seems like a good time to think about what we have achieved and where we are going next ….
Our primary goal was to revamp our tea time menus and we are so pleased with the result! Twelve months later and thanks to the support and advice of our EYNP nutritionist Gill, we now have a tea menu that is healthy, appealing, manageable, cost-effective and above all, we are confident that we are offering all our children the best we can nutritionally, even those with significant dietary needs and allergies.
We are so much more confident and knowledgeable than we used to be about nutrition. Two of the team undertook their EYNP Level 3 nutrition awards and have subsequently taught the rest of the team a lot about portion sizing, the importance of oily fish, starchy carbohydrates, being hydrated and lots, lots more. Some of the things we have learned have come as a real surprise. Some of the foods that we offered, believing they were healthy (not least because they are often heavily marketed at young children like baby biscuits and fromage frais) when we knew how to properly check ingredients we realised they really weren’t very healthy at all!
Against our expectation we have been able to make financial savings on some of our substitutes and we have found time saving ways of serving fresh fruits by using defrosted chopped frozen fruit to complement our meals and snacks.
Helping our business
We always make a point of telling parents who come to look around about our work with the EYNP. We are proud of our commitment and about everything we have learned, and it is great to see that parents are responding to that and that it matters to them that we prioritise nutrition. I have no doubt that it will help us attract business and enhance our reputation locally.
We also make sure we talk about it on social media, and because we were eager to tell our story, we have been lucky enough to have been featured in EYNP promotional materials, that help us shout about the great work we are doing. We’ve also loved being invited to participate in some of the EYNP flagship events, learning The Healthy Eating Song and meeting Ben Faulks, better known as Mr Bloom from CBeebies!
Year 2 for Tender Years and the EYNP
So what now? What is there to do next year? Well we feel confident in our tea menus now and are going to continue our journey by working towards accreditation status this year. We are doing this hand in hand with our lunchtime catering company. We are quite happy with our breakfast offerings, but will be thinking about our afternoon snack menu and how we can make sure we offer a protein based portion alongside our fruit. We are also very excited to be planning some in-house training to focus on our attitudes towards food and how what we say or do can influence children’s choices.
When we embarked upon our relationship with the EYNP I honestly envisaged we would start and finish an accreditation programme and move away onto the next thing. But on reflection the more we have learned, the more we realise what there is to do, and we are so excited by our food now that I imagine our relationship with the EYNP is going to remain at the top of our agenda for a long time yet.