Tell us about your fantastic early years food provision

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Nursery World is looking for early years settings with top-quality food provision to enter the Nursery Food category of our 2022 awards.

Your menu should include all the meals and snacks provided in your setting
Your menu should include all the meals and snacks provided in your setting

The criteria for the Nursery Food award are: ‘Open to early years settings whose approach to and provision of food promotes children’s health and well-being. Menus should be healthy, nutritious and balanced, meeting the current national early years food and drink guidelines, Eat Better Start Better. Children should be supported to learn about making healthy choices and where their food comes from. Mealtimes and snacktimes should be well-planned, happy and sociable.’

To help you assess whether you meet the criteria and to guide you when writing your entry, Early Start Nutrition has provided some tips to consider. Why not read these and then go to to start your entry.


EBSB guidelines

The Eat Better Start Better (EBSB) guidelines are the voluntary food and drink guidelines for early years settings and following them will support your setting to meet the EYFS requirement for the provision of healthy, balanced and nutritious food and drink. Explain how you do this.


Menu planning

  • Do your menus outline all of the meals and snacks provided in your setting? See example menu above or here
  • How many weeks do your menus cover? A menu covering between three and four weeks will provide children with lots of dietary variety and keep them interested and excited about the foods on offer.
  • Do you introduce new menu cycles at least twice a year, eg spring/summer and autumn/winter, to expose children to new foods, tastes and textures, incorporate seasonality, boost affordability and serve food grown in your setting?
  • How do you encourage families to provide healthy packed lunches if this happens at your setting?

Cultural and dietary needs

How do you cater for the cultural and dietary needs of all children? Whether they’re based on cultural or religious beliefs, or if they’re for medical reasons, children’s choices, beliefs, and safety must be respected and protected. Do you?

  • Collect dietary information from families when they register.
  • Talk to families about how you can meet their child’s dietary needs and follow any healthcare professional advice that’s provided.
  • Clearly communicate this information to all staff in the setting.


Communicating with families

How do you share your menus and the timing of meals and snacks with families, so that they know what know what their child has eaten, and so that they can plan balanced meals and snacks at home?

To help families to know what their child is eating, do you:

  • display your menus somewhere that families can see them?
  • email families a copy of your menus at the start of a new menu cycle?
  • have discussions with families at collection and describe what foods their child has eaten?
  • invite families in to try new dishes and discuss ideas for your next menu cycles?


Food policy

Your Food Policy is important to outline your vision of the ethos, status and role of all aspects of food and drink within your setting.  Does yours outline:

  • a whole setting approach to all aspects of your food provision and learning about food?
  • how you uphold the EYFS safeguarding and welfare requirements for food and drink?
  • the efforts you are making to support the health and wellbeing of the children you care for?
  • a clear and coordinated approach, providing a clear directive for staff and families?

Babies under one

It’s really important for your menu and Food Policy to include information about how you support children who are under the age of one. You should provide details of how you:

  • support and encourage breastfeeding
  • ensure the safe storage and preparation of expressed breastmilk and formula milk
  • support babies under one to enjoy a variety of foods.

Do you ensure the approach you take in the settings is consistent with what is happening at home by working closely with families?

Do you modify your regular nursery menu to make it suitable for the under 1s in your setting to help babies to become familiar with the types of foods they will be encouraged to eat as toddlers? See ‘Example menus for early years settings in England’, for more information on modifying your menus for the under 1’s.


Enter the Nursery Food Award

Entry to the Nursery World Awards 2022 has been extended until 26 May. Go to to submit your entry.

Contact with any queries.

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