Nursery sector calls for stricter food standards

  • 8th May 2024

Industry leaders are calling on the Government to deliver stricter, clearer, and more-specific food standards for early years settings following a survey that found that over 50% of parents rely heavily on their nursery to feed their children nutritious meals.

Over 10 industry leaders, representing more than 150 early years settings across the UK, have submitted a joint letter to government leaders calling for action to turn the tide on nationwide childhood health and obesity issues.

The letter highlights that, with increasing access to free childcare, more and more parents of children under the age of five will become reliant on early years settings to provide nutritious meals.

The campaign comes as a OnePoll survey found that nearly 70% of parents were unaware that there are no government-backed regulations on what nutritious food should consist of in early years settings.

And almost 90% of parents agreed that the Government should do more to ensure children in nursery are being fed well.

Jonny Player, managing director at Nursery Kitchen, is leading the campaign and said: “The health of our children must become an important discussion in Parliament.

“Early years settings are becoming increasingly responsible for feeding young children and ensuring Britain’s next generation lead healthy and happy lives.

“As industry leaders, we are in agreement that our organisations, large and small, must have strong policies in place that recognise the importance of proper nutrition in early years settings, but we need political leadership to act on the state of the nation’s health now, and instruct lasting change.”

The letter, sent to 19 government representatives, calls for a revision to the Early Years Foundation Stage statutory framework, to expand the food section, providing clear standards for ‘nutritious’ meals.

Leaders also ask for the Eat Better, Start Better programme to be reviewed to encourage early years settings to invest in and see high-quality, healthy food as a priority.

And a letter sent to Kier Starmer, urges Labour to give specific attention to early years settings in its Child Health Action Plan, which promises the healthiest generation of children ever, but does not acknowledge challenges at pre-school age.

Sarah Steel, chair of the Old Station Nursery, said: “We are proud to get behind this campaign, which we know will only improve our children’s long-term health, providing we all work together to face these challenges head on.

“Our children deserve to have the very-best start in life and that must begin with good nutrition – a basic, but fundamental, part of early development.

“We are coming together as an industry with a view that we can achieve real change for the better.”


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