Wall C.,Childrens Food Trust and School Food Trust |
Mucavele P.,Childrens Food Trust and School Food Trust |
Sharp L.,Childrens Food Trust and School Food Trust
Nutrition Bulletin | Year: 2012
Children's early years provide an important foundation for their future health and wellbeing. Diet during this time influences growth, development and achievement, but dietary needs of children aged 1-5 years are not always met. There are over 1.3 million registered early years childcare places in England with an increasing proportion of children attending full day care. The Early Years Foundation Stage framework includes a welfare requirement for food and drink provided in regulated settings to be 'healthy, balanced and nutritious', but until recently, no practical guidelines were available in England to define this in practice. The Advisory Panel on Food and Nutrition in Early Years concluded that the government should provide further practical guidance for early years settings on meeting the nutritional requirements of children aged 1-5 years. The School Food Trust's Eat Better, Start Better programme, commissioned by the Department for Education, involved development of Voluntary Food and Drink Guidelines for Early Years Settings in England, which give practical guidance on the types, frequencies and amounts of food and drink to provide for meals and snacks. The guidelines were piloted in 18 early years settings, extensively reviewed by the health and early years sector and subsequently published on the Trust's website in January 2012, with example menus, self-evaluation checklists and a Code of Practice for Food and Drink. Training in, and evaluation of, the new guidelines is underway in 20 local authorities. Future challenges include ensuring that the guidelines are used consistently by early years settings when providing food and drink for young children in their care. © 2012 British Nutrition Foundation.