Food, Nutrition & Allergy Policy
Aims & ethos:
At Chingford House Nursery we are aware of the importance of providing a healthy diet; nutritional meals are a contributory factor in thriving children and as such our aim is to establish healthy eating. We understand the need for an early introduction to nutritional meals to support healthy development, to enable children to make healthy food choices and to play our part in reducing childhood obesity.
As an inclusive nursery, we acknowledge diversity of cultures; we bring awareness of these differences to the children through celebrating a range of festivals. We want the children to embrace their culture and that of others. Some of this can be achieved through the varied menus that we provide.
We provide a pescatarian menu ensuring that meals are plentiful with fish, fresh vegetables, salad and fruit, in addition to eggs and dairy.
The Statutory Framework of the Early Years Foundation Stage (2021) references government dietary recommendations in relation to nutrients, energy (calories) and maximum intake for sugar and fibre etc. Following the EYFS guidelines, we have taken some example menus ideas from the Voluntary Food and Drink Guidelines, for Early Years Settings in England 2012 (and the updated version published by Action for Children in 2017).
We do not provide desserts for the children, but instead offer fruits or yoghurts.
Following parental involvement, we have been revising our menus and we want to ensure that the meals that we offer have a good balance of healthy foods, as well as incorporating some of the children’s preferences; to this end, some of the children’s names are by the meals that they have suggested. Staff give parents general feedback at the end of each day including how much food the children have eaten; this is generally for the babies and younger children, but parents of the older children can have this information too if required.
Babies & young children:
Parents who have breastfed babies are welcome to leave breast milk at the nursery which will be stored in the fridge until the babies need it.
Parents whose children have formula milk are asked to provide it; the staff then label and store the formula milk in the cupboard. The staff make milk feeds, following instructions from the parents or guidelines on the packaging. Bottles and all feeding equipment for babies under 1 year old are sterilised. Staff must wash their hands, wear aprons and gloves when handling children’s milk, food or bottles.
At Chingford House Nursery we endeavour to work with parents when introducing solid food so that there is consistency in a baby’s diet. We provide children with a variety of foods from the different food groups and encourage parents to do the same. We blend, mash or provide finger foods depending on the age of the children.
We encourage all children to be independent feeders as soon as they are physically able, even if this means that they use their hands, which is developmentally appropriate for young children. The babies and younger children are given plastic spoons to eat with, so as not to hurt their gums or mouth. As they become older, the children will be encouraged to use metal utensils.
The term before the children leave to go to school, we encourage them to serve their own meals (the second helping, where the food has cooled), this promotes independence, choice and helps prepare them for school
The menus are planned for and follow a four-week cycle for a term. We endeavour to follow guidelines, ensuring that we are meeting nutritional requirements for the children. There is variety in terms of textures, tastes and colours which helps to make it palatable for the children. We hope to introduce meals that they may not necessarily get at home.
The menus are emailed to the parents at the beginning of the term and will be displayed on the noticeboard outside the nursery. We appreciate that parents like to be aware of the menus so that they are confident that the children are eating healthily and that they are not duplicating meals in the evening!
As there are three terms in the year, we hope to produce three menu cycles catering for the different seasons, festivals and topics.
We are happy to receive suggestions and encourage children and parents to be part of the menu planning.
Milk and water are the drinks provided at the nursery; children aged between 1-2 years have full fat milk and children aged over two years are given semi skimmed milk.
Parents are asked to provide a water bottle for their children so that they will be able to access water/milk independently throughout the day (the water bottles stay at the nursery until the end of a term). Each room has a designated area where the water bottles are kept which is accessible for the children. We understand that not all children are keen on drinking water, so their water intake is monitored throughout the day, and children are encouraged to drink more, where appropriate.
We encourage babies to move from bottles to beakers as soon they are developmentally able, which supports their oral health and speech development.
At Chingford House Nursery, we have set times for meals:
Breakfast is served between 8-9am; we try not to provide breakfast after this time, so that children are sufficiently hungry to eat their lunch
Lunch is provided at 11.30am
Tea is served at 3pm.
An afternoon snack of milk/water and fruit is served at 5pm.
On the arrival of our weekly food delivery, the food is checked to ensure that the packaging is intact and free from contamination. Food is stored appropriately following guidelines and used within dates specified. Foods such as fruit, salad and vegetables are washed before they are prepared for meals. The children’s meals are prepared fresh each day, and are cooked to the recommended temperatures and allowed to cool safely for consumption.
Staff must wash their hands and wear gloves when preparing or serving food.
To ensure that we are helping the children to keep themselves safe, we introduce hygiene rules as soon as they are able to understand them; we therefore teach the children the importance of washing hands before meals and after using the toilet and not eating food that has fallen on the floor! This limits the risks of cross- contamination, infection or food poisoning (see Hygiene & Infection Control Policy).
It is just as crucial that children understand the importance of not eating from each other’s plates, as they may not understand the implications of food allergies.
For health and safety reasons, the tables are wiped down prior to serving food. The children must be seated when eating, the staff sit with the children to ensure this and to help promote social skills by having shared discussions amongst the children. Children will not be left unattended whilst eating. Food which can be seen as choking hazards such as grapes, apples, oranges, bananas etc., are cut in small pieces. Some children put a lot of food in their mouth at once or eat quickly which is discouraged.
The Cook and the staff that handle the food have all undergone food hygiene training and will continue to discuss food safety issues at staff meetings.
We enjoy helping the children to celebrate their birthdays at the nursery by sharing their day with their peers and the staff. Parents are welcome to bring in a shop-bought cake (so we can see the ingredients used), other party foods are allowed as we see this as a special treat for the children. We respect parents’ wishes if their children are not allowed to join in the parties for religious reasons. We inform parents that nuts are not allowed to be brought in as part of the party foods, as we have children with peanut and nut allergies.
We recognise that more and more children are becoming susceptible to food allergies as well as other allergens in the environment. It is crucial that our Cook and the staff that handle food understand that ingredients such as milk, eggs, fish, gluten, nuts can be present in foods and can pose a serious threat to anyone who is allergic to them.
The Food Standards Agency has helped our understanding and practice in providing safe foods for children with allergies. The Cook and staff understand the need to check the food labels before serving certain types of food to children with allergies; there are 14 allergens which have to be included in food labels by UK law and staff know to look for these allergens which are in bold in the ingredients label.
We want to provide a safe environment where staff are vigilant to the children’s dietary needs without making the child feel self-conscious; where possible, we will find an alternative which is close to the food that they are not permitted to eat. Our focus and aims are to help the children to understand that there are foods that are not safe to their health yet empower them to make the best choices with other healthy foods.
At Chingford House Nursery we adhere to the Statutory Framework of the Early Years Foundation Stage (2021): Before a child is admitted to the setting the provider must also obtain information about any special dietary requirements, preferences and food allergies that the child has, and any special health requirements. All children with an allergy are included on an allergy list which is displayed in all rooms; further to this there is a photo display of the child, outlining their allergies and the days that they attend the nursery. All children have a table mat and the children with allergies have a red one, signifying that they have an allergy and that staff must check before giving them food.
Parents have the responsibility of keeping the nursery up to date with any dietary or allergy changes. The allergy list is updated on a regular basis and parents are asked to email the office to verify changes or that things have stayed the same. We request that parents email any allergy or dietary requirements so that the nursery has a written record (firstname.lastname@example.org). We cannot accept verbal information given to staff members as this may not be passed on accurately to our written records.
Procedure for an allergic reaction:
Children who are intolerant of certain foods or environmental allergens may react adversely if they eat or come into contact with them, therefore staff will:
-Look for possible reactions which may include hives, itchy/blotchy skin, vomiting/nausea, tummy pains, watery eyes, swelling to the mouth, wheezing or in extreme cases, anaphylaxis.
-Remove the child from the allergen (food, pollen etc.,)
-Allow the child to drink some water and give them antihistamine (we have prior parental consent to provide medication in these instances)
-For more severe cases (anaphylaxis) ensure that the child is sitting up and administer their auto- injector (i.e. epi-pen) into their thigh
-If the child has two auto-injectors, then administer the second one if necessary
-Ensure that the emergency services have been called
-Monitor the child until help arrives
-Ensure that parents have been notified
-Ensure that appropriate documentation is taken to the hospital with the child
-Key Person/familiar adult will accompany the child to the hospital if the parents do not arrive on time
The Manager will carry out an investigation following the event and will report back to the parents. Any recommendations and actions will be shared with the staff to limit the possibility of it happening again or to improve practice.
This Food, Nutrition & Allergy policy is extremely important in terms of promoting and ensuring that children eat healthily, but also in ensuring that staff are also promoting food safety.
Policy Created by: Yolande Farrell Manager
Signed off by: Zarkar Akhtar Owner
Date: Sept 2022 Date of next review: Sept 2024