#StandUpForEarlyYears: Isle of Wight MP praises nursery group's local food initiative
Thursday, July 23, 2020
Tops Day Nurseries has banned food from home to help limit the transmission of Covid-19 and will provide children with locally-sourced, healthy meals.
The nursery group has introduced a blanket ban on any food being brought from home at all its sites, with children provided with healthy, home-cooked food, which is sourced as sustainably and locally as possible.
However, Cheryl Hadland, managing director of Tops Day Nurseries, said this can be a challenge for the Isle of Wight setting, when commercial suppliers often import from the mainland.
‘We launched the initiative partly to reduce the lunch boxes coming in and out of the building, which increases the risk of virus transmission, but also to protect children with allergies having foods brought in by other children that can make them sick accidentally,’ she said.
‘Tops is trying to be as sustainable as possible, for example our nursery vehicle is electric, we have solar panels on our building, and we have our milk delivered from the local dairy, but we could do better if commercial food supplies could include more local fruit, vegetables, and items such as oat milk, or perhaps we could have local farm shops deliver directly?’
Bob Seely MP (right) said, ‘This approach to children’s welfare is extremely encouraging and I have encouraged Tops to source their ingredients wherever possible from local suppliers to support island businesses.’
Concerns over underfunding were also raised with the MP during the meeting on Zoom, and he said that he would raise the issue in Westminster.
Ms Hadland said, ‘The nursery sector is critically underfunded, which is limiting us being able to spend more on food but also from employing more graduates to work with the children. We know that the better trained the adults who work with the children, the more the children will achieve, setting them up for a better of quality of life in every way throughout life, so we are begging to be paid more per hour per child so that this can be passed on to pay staff more.
‘Nursery staff have continued to work throughout the pandemic, enabling the NHS and other critical workers to work, as well as educating the under-fives, and we believe that nursery professionals are worthy of more respect and at least a living wage, so I’m delighted that Bob has agreed to speak up for us in Parliament.’
Mr Seely will also be joining the All-Party Parliamentary Group for childcare and early education providers, of which Ms Hadland is a founding member.