Nurseries expected to be nutrition experts

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In a recent survey conducted by the Early Years Nutrition Partnership (EYNP) it was discovered that 82% of UK parents expected their childcare providers to be up to date on the latest nutritional information for youngsters, with the expectation that they actively seek out the latest advice from industry experts.

The online survey – Childcare Providers and Nutrition – was conducted on YouGov and completed by 800 parents, all of whom had children aged 1-4 years.

It was uncovered that 90% of parents believed that knowledge of nutrition was more important than other aspects of nursery life such as daily handovers (89%), and learning journals (86%).

Parents also indicated that the setting’s knowledge of nutrition trumped that of the facilities, including good reception areas (49%) and access to buggy parking (64%) in the importance they placed on it.

However, in contrast to these results, separate research conducted by the Pre-School Learning Alliance back in 2016, discovered that 79% of childcare providers were not, in fact, seeking expert advice in the area of nutrition.

Nutrition Development Manager for EYNP, Annie Denny, has said:

“We’re impressed to see that parents and carers have high expectations about nutrition in nurseries and pre-schools, as we believe childcare providers have a responsibility to get nutrition right in the early years. Our message is that by upskilling practitioners we can help them engage with parents on an exciting nutrition journey, that results in healthier and affordable meals in the setting, and likely inspiration and help for home too.’

June O’Sullivan, EYNP board member and Chief Executive of the London Early Years Foundation, commented that childcare providers had a vital role to play when it came to educating staff about nutrition in order to support families with children’s health.

She stated: “The childhood obesity epidemic in this country is a national scandal, and so far, Government responses have fallen far short.

“To my mind, it is now up to us as a sector to take action on this ourselves. Every single setting needs to be taking action to upskill their team and to make sure in particular, that chefs are trained. Parents are trusting us to get this right. If we are not prepared to act now the consequences for the nation’s health will be dire.”

Quality and Standards Manager of the Pre-School Learning Alliance, Melanie Pilcher, added:

“What I want settings to realise is that nutrition is the bedrock to the delivery of the EYFS. A well-nourished child will have a better physical, educational, social and emotional development journey through the early years system. These survey results show us that there is a golden opportunity for settings to partner with parents and engage them in enhancing food and mealtimes both at the setting and at home too.”

Stacey Bailer, Regional Quality Manager at nursery group, Fennies, has spoken of their expectations of practitioners as they work in partnership with the EYNP, stating:

“We want our practitioners to be able to support parents further in their understanding of the importance of a nutritionally-balanced diet.”

 

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