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It’s Official! Most Parents Want Better Nursery Food Now.

Posted Mar 24 2010 2:59pm

 As support mounts for the campaign to ban junk food from nurseries, surely the Government must finally take action.

Many people are unaware that existing standards & regulation that apply to primary & secondary schools do not cover nurseries, where practices which would be unacceptable in schools are widespread. The potential effects for the future development & long term health for young children are enormous.
In 2008 the Soil Association - funded by the Organix Foundation – began a campaign to improve the quality of food in our nurseries – Better Nursery Food Now. The Campaign has continued to gain momentum since it began, & yesterday issued the results of a survey of over 1000 parents. The survey – carried out on its behalf by Mumsnet in February 2010 – found that nine out of ten parents want to see the introduction of nutritional standards in nurseries, which will be legally binding.

A report produced by the Better Nursery Food Now campaign – Georgie Porgy Pudding & Pie – was released in October 2008, the first comprehensive study looking at the quality of the food given to children who go to nurseries in the UK. A further document updating this & reporting on what has happened since the original report - including a discussion of the Mumsnet survey - was issued on 23rd March. The information contained in the reports is staggering.

The shocking statistics show that one in four children are obese or overweight by the time they start primary school. Some children attend nursery for up to ten hours a day, & for many it is their main food source during the week. Despite the high fees parents are paying, some nurseries are using a daily amount of as little as twenty five pence per child on food, which includes items which are either prohibited or limited in schools, such as processed foods containing high quantities of salt, sugar & fat, as well as artificial additives.

Thousands of parents have signed an online petition supporting the campaign, & fifty MPs are supporting it by tabling an Early Day Motion in parliament regarding nursery food.

Last week – as a direct result of the campaign - The School Food Trust agreed that the lack of regulation with regard to nurseries meant that the system was letting down the youngest children, & took responsibility for this. The Department for Children, Schools & Families (DCSF) announced that it was going to carry out a review of the standard of food in nurseries. It will report back on the results in September. The results of the Mumsnet survey means there is even more pressure on The Government to act now to bring in clear & compulsory regulations regarding standards.

The main points that Better Nursery Food Now is campaigning for are: Better regulation regarding the quality & nutritional value of food served in all early years settings on a par with schools. Better inspection to make sure the rules are adhered to. Better training for nursery care & catering staff. Better accountability by the DCSF. It also recommends that a whole supply chain approach is taken by the government with regard to how the food is grown or produced. On Wednesday 31st a stakeholder briefing will take place for interested parties from the nursery sector.


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