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Nursery school leaders are urging an incoming government to create food standards for early years education.

The call comes after a report by food provider Nursery Kitchen found 70% are unaware that there are no nutritional and quality regulations in place for early years settings.

Nursery Kitchen has stressed the importance of early nutrition as a foundation upon which primary and secondary schools are reliant.

It also highlighted how increasing access to free childcare means more and more parents rely on early years settings to provide nutritious meals.

The provider is campaigning on behalf of 150 early years institutions across the UK to engage the new government on regulation.

A joint letter sent to 19 political representatives last week urged electoral candidates to revise the early years foundation stage statutory focus.

“We’re disappointed that political parties haven’t included a focus on improving food standards in early years settings within their 2024 manifestos,” said Nursery Kitchen MD Jonny Player.

“The Liberal Democrats, Labour and Conservative parties have included encouraging pledges dedicated to improving child welfare. But none of them have put any focus on early years nutrition, which is a huge oversight.

“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.”

Sarah Steel, chair of the Old Station Nursery, added: “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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Over 10 nursery leaders, representing more than 150 early years settings across the UK including LEYF, Storal, Old Station Nursery and Kinderzimmer, have submitted a joint letter to the Government highlighting their campaign, which calls for action to ‘turn the tide on nationwide childhood health and obesity issues’.

The letter, which has been sent to 19 Government representatives, calls for a revision to the EYFS to expand the food section, providing clear standards for ‘nutritious’ meals.

It also suggests the Eat Better, Start Better programme be reviewed to encourage settings to invest in and see high-quality, healthy food as a priority, and that Labour give specific attention nurseries, pre-schools and childminders within their Child Health Action Plan.

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

According to findings from a OnePoll survey, commissioned by Nursery Kitchen, which is leading the campaign, nearly 70 per cent of parents are unaware that there are no Government-backed regulations on what nutritious food should concise of in early years settings. A total of 500 parents took part.

'Our children deserve to have the very best start in life and that must begin with good nutrition'.

Jonny Player, managing director of Nursery Kitchen, 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.’

Sarah Steel, chair of the Old Station Nursery, added, ‘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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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 heavily rely 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. 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.

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 doesn’t acknowledge challenges at pre-school age.

Sarah Steel, Chair of the Old Station Nursery, added: “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.”

Industry leaders commend the positive work that has been delivered on health and nutrition in schools over the past decade and see an opportunity to set standards for the early years by helping children to make better choices as they grow. Campaigners hope that by providing better guidance for their carers in younger years, more children can be inspired to make healthier choices later in life.

Nursery Kitchen has been selected as dedicated food supplier at a new early years setting launched by London based independent school, Eaton Square.

The Nest, in Pimlico, forms part of Eaton Square’s continued expansion, welcoming children aged two to four years. Staff at The Nest will serve a varied menu of healthy, high-quality meals supplied by Nursery Kitchen, in line with Eaton Square’s mission to inspire nutritional education and enrich children’s lives through taste.

Jonny Player, Managing Director at Nursery Kitchen said: “We believe that food education and inspiring a love of nourishing food is essential to ensure well-rounded, healthy, and happy lives. Partnering with nurseries that share the same values and vision for the future is so important and allows us to make positive differences in children’s eating behaviours which are carried through to adulthood.

“Our whole team is delighted to be working with Eaton Square. In the same way we do, the school values the importance of introducing varied healthy diets at an early age. We’re excited to start this journey together.”

Nursery Kitchen will be serving up its new Teddy Bear's Picnic dish, featuring plant-based snacks from Gosh! as part of its diverse and nutritious menu selection for Eaton Square School. Eaton Square is the latest addition to Nursery Kitchen's more than 130 strong portfolio of nurseries.

Jonny added: “Nursery Kitchen prides itself on preparing food with the utmost care and attention. From our SALSA accredited kitchens to our rigorous food safety procedures, children’s welfare and protection is at the forefront of every action. Along with The Nest’s strong teacher presence during mealtimes, parents can be assured that their child’s first mealtime experience is as safe as can possibly be.”

The Nest is the newest launch by Eaton Square, with additional nursery classrooms based at Eccleston Square. The non-selective nursery schools aim to build a strong relationship with each child, providing them with a solid foundation to follow through to the Prep School, which starts at age four.

Head of Early Years, Isabel Mouzo said: “Our pupils take part in various activities throughout their day including swimming, French and ballet, so it’s important that they have healthy, good food to fuel them throughout the day. At The Nest, we make a real ‘moment’ of mealtimes. It’s more than just providing food for the children; it’s a sensory experience where they can learn through smell, touch, and taste, with the teacher’s there on hand for support and encouragement.

“As a group, we champion learning through play and activities, and Nursery Kitchen’s ethos of experimentation and flavour bursts really resonates with us. We’re excited to partner with Nursery Kitchen and work together to improve nutrition and food education in children.”

Healthy food supplier for young children, Nursery Kitchen, has been awarded with not one but two awards for its meals at this year’s Nourish Awards.

Their cheese bolognese pasta took home gold in the Meals and Convenience Foods category and their swish fish pie took silver in the same, recognised under the Kids Awards Winners 2023 section.

The Nourish Awards, now it its fifth year, focuses on nutrition and exemplary flavour in the food and beverage sector, with the Kids Awards focusing more specifically on reduced processing and sugar, and increased creativity. The well-respected awards are known in the industry for having a rigorous entry and judgement process.

This achievement marks Nursery Kitchen’s third win at the Nourish Kids Awards, with the company winning gold and silver for its paneer and pea curry and salmon and pineapple Thai curry respectively in the ‘Baby & Toddler Food’ category in 2022.

Jonny Player, MD at Nursery Kitchen said: “To be awarded gold for our much-loved cheese bolognese pasta and silver for our popular swish fish pie at the Nourish Kids Awards is an outstanding accomplishment. With over 350 entries across the categories, to take home two awards speaks volumes about the quality, outstanding flavour, and innovative menu that Nursery Kitchen is proud to produce.

“These awards are testament to the incredible work of our Food Innovation Team to create a diverse and varied menu, with each meal maintaining or exceeding nutritional and taste standards.

“All our meals are packed with variety and natural flavours from around the world, encouraging children to develop varied and expansive palates, and it’s fantastic to be recognised by qualified nutritionists specialising in child nutrition or products developed specifically for this market.”

Seymour House has officially unveiled its 11th site, and second in Colchester alongside a brand-new job developed by food supplier, Nursery Kitchen.

The new role is designed to educate the children about the importance of good nutrition.

This week, Chesterwell Nursery welcomes 70 new children to its modern, purpose-built premises – the largest in Seymour House’s portfolio to date. Among the 17 members of staff is the ‘Nursery Food Champion’, whose responsibility is to educate children about food, where ingredients come from, and the importance of a healthy and balanced diet for developing little minds and bodies.

Marnie Llewelyn, food consultant at Nursery Kitchen, said: “Our ‘Nursery Food Champion’ role has been specifically designed to work in harmony with our offering and mission at Nursery Kitchen. We don’t just want to provide healthy, delicious dishes – we want to encourage children eating them to develop a lifelong passion for food and adopt better nutritional choices later in life. The people serving our dishes in nurseries and engaging with the children are the ones who have the power to drive that inspiration.

“We’re so excited to welcome our first official ‘Nursery Food Champion’ into our programme through their appointment at Chesterwell Nursery. Their passion for quality, nourishing ingredients and good nutrition will no doubt catch on and be instrumental in influencing children’s love for good food.”

Seymour House has been providing nursery education to Essex and Greater London residents for more than 35 years. The £2.2m development took 13 months to complete in response to demand from local families. Fourteen staff members have transferred from other Seymour House locations, bringing 65 years of collective experience with them – with three brand new roles created.

Caroline Clark, operations manager at Seymour House, said: “Colchester has a burgeoning pipeline of housing development in progress, so the need for high-quality education is at an all-time high. Chesterwell Nursery sits within the recently developed Chesterwell Plaza, so accommodates an immediate demand for families living in the development alongside others in the wider area.

“This nursery is a critical site for the local community, and we’re delighted to have so many families signed up already. We cannot wait to welcome the children and their parents and grandparents to the Seymour House family.”

Link to original article HERE.

One of Germany’s largest childcare companies, kinderzimmer*, has chosen Nursery Kitchen as its dedicated food supplier for its first foray into the UK market.

kinderzimmer officially opened the doors to its first UK nursery in Muswell Hill, north London last month. The brand will be serving up fresh, nutritious meals made by Nursery Kitchen in alignment with kinderzimmer’s own mission to celebrate food and build children’s confidence at mealtimes.

Jonny Player, Managing Director at Nursery Kitchen commented: “Our vision at Nursery Kitchen is to inspire children to develop a lifelong interest in food, leading to healthier, happier lives in the future. It’s important for us to work with like-minded companies and we see every partnership as a collaborative effort to make a positive difference.

“It’s fantastic to be working with kinderzimmer as the brand places as much importance on nutrition as we do. Food so often comes as an afterthought for many nurseries, and channelling available resources elsewhere means nutritional standards can slip. The long-term impacts can be catastrophic as children develop unhealthy eating habits, causing health and developmental issues later down the line. That’s why the early stages of a child’s life are so crucial in inspiring better choices in the long-term.”

Nursery Kitchen’s menus offer nutritionally balanced meals and snacks, with a diverse selection of ingredients. A typical three-week menu features 20 different vegetables and 10 different fruits, eight herbs and a range of spices. Example dishes include Farmer Sue’s Chicken Stew, featuring pearl barley and diced celeriac, and Swish Fish Pie, containing fennel and dill.

Jonny continued: “The diversity of our menus means we can add excitement to children’s mealtimes and encourage them to try new flavours and textures. kinderzimmer provides the perfect setting in their nurseries to accommodate such taste adventures. We’re excited to be part of the brand’s first UK venture and work with them to drive a positive change across the nation.”

kinderzimmer will be opening two further sites in Berkhamsted and Walton-on-Thames later this year. All sites feature a ‘kinderzimmer kitchen’; a dedicated multi-functional room designed to immerse children in mealtimes, share their eating experiences with others, and learn about food and nutrition through baking and food preparation.

Vishav Roma, Managing Director at kinderzimmer said: “Food and nutrition play an integral role in early years development. Our children are at nursery for most of their mealtimes, so it’s imperative we prioritise healthy, nutritious meals all-day, every day. By including a ‘kinderzimmer kitchen’ in each nursery setting, we strive to give children food confidence from day one. We’re able to make learning about food a focus, get our children excited about trying new things and, importantly, ensure they’re eating a well-balanced meal three times a day.

“Nursery Kitchen’s menu  celebrate their ingredients by making them visible across their dishes, so it’s only right that we give children an opportunity to celebrate food and develop a natural curiosity for what they’re eating

“We are very excited with our new partnership which will enable us to keep high-quality food and nutrition consistent within our nurseries as we expand throughout London and the Home Counties in 2023 and beyond. We’re looking forward to working closely with Nursery Kitchen to help improve child nutrition across the UK.”

For more information about Nursery Kitchen, visit https://nurserykitchen.co.uk/. For further information about kinderzimmer, visit https://kinderzimmer.co.uk/.

Link to original article HERE.

Plant-based food manufacturer, Gosh! has announced a new partnership with nursery food supplier, Nursery Kitchen, in a bid to inspire more under-fives to enjoy healthier food choices.

Gosh! Sweet Potato Pakora and Mediterranean Falafel now feature as snacking options on Nursery Kitchen’s menus, available to the brand’s portfolio of more than 130 nurseries across the UK. As two of Gosh!’s top-selling products, Nursery Kitchen deemed them an ideal choice to help strengthen the diversity of its menu flavours – something the brand believes is key to encouraging children to adopt a healthier diet in later life.

The partnership comes following numerous reports revealing concerning nutrition habits among pre-schoolers. According to the 2021/22 National Child Measurement Programme, more than a fifth of British children are obese or overweight by the time they get to primary school. Ultra-processed foods (UPFs) have been cited as a key culprit, with First Steps Nutrition Trust reporting that around 61 per cent of two to five-year-old’s energy comes from UPFs.

Hannah Dolan, Head of Food at Nursery Kitchen commented: “The stats in recent news reports signal a drastic need for change in the early years food industry. Children need to have access to healthy food choices at the earliest possible age to have the best chances of carrying through such preferences and eating habits into their adult years. We believe that giving children a broad range of flavours and textures is key to inspiring independent selection and a love of healthy food.”

Nursery Kitchen’s menus are created by development chefs and approved by nutritionists, with a focus on offering fresh, nutritionally balanced meals and snacks. Its menus feature a wide range of nourishing elements including beans and pulses, oily fish at least once a week, a meat-free day at least once a week, low salt, and low sugar. A typical three-week menu features 20 different vegetables and 20 different fruits, along with a wide range of herbs and spices.

Hannah continued: “One of the key ways to engage pre-school age children in food is offering versatility. Gosh!’s falafels and bites are perfect as they add to the diversity of our menus and help us give children different flavours and ways to eat. They’re also made with 100% natural ingredients, without any artificial additives or preservatives. We’re excited to partner with Gosh! as an established brand which shares our mission to make a positive difference to lives through championing a wholesome, healthy diet.”

The new addition to Nursery Kitchen’s menus will be included in an upcoming meal due to be launched this month – ‘teddy bear’s picnic’. The dish is designed to encourage children to enjoy a family-style lunch with others at nursery, trying a selection of food including Gosh! falafels and pakoras, crudites, dips, pita, cheese, and fruit.

Caroline Hughes, Head of Marketing at Gosh! said: “Our products are designed to banish any blandness from mealtimes – something which is particularly critical for children as their interests in different foods develop from such an early age.

“Exposing children to different plant-based dishes at nursery age means they can kickstart a positive relationship with fruit and vegetables. Our partnership with Nursery Kitchen allows us to reach more children at this critical life stage, influencing better diet choices one nursery at a time so we can help create a happier, healthier life for future generations.”

For more information about Nursery Kitchen’s menus, visit https://nurserykitchen.co.uk/our-menu/. For further information about Gosh!, visit https://www.goshfood.com/.

Link to original article here.