Nursery World Awards 2009: Initiatives - Nursery Food Award

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WINNER: RED HEN DAY NURSERY, LOUTH, LINCOLNSHIRE

A healthy diet and educating children about food and its production andpreparation was an important consideration when David and Jane Harrisonopened Red Hen Day Nursery five years ago.

Initially, Jane cooked all the meals but then other aspects of thenursery began to take up too much time; she now employs two cooks, aswell as her daughter, Lucy, who has completed a cookery course atEdinburgh School of Food and Wine.

Jane says, 'Red Hen believes that children benefit from knowing wheretheir food comes from if they are to build the skills necessary to makean informed choice about a healthy diet in the future. To this end, thesetting makes full use of its location on the proprietors' working farm,to which the children have regular supervised access to learn aboutfood, farming and nature. This also has the added benefit of providing arich source of learning opportunities in the Early Years FoundationStage.'

The children have a good understanding of how things grow and where foodcomes from because of their experience of growing vegetables in thenursery garden.

They understand that meat comes from animals because the nursery hasreared its own pigs. They even understand the growth cycle of wheat andwhy it is grown because they regularly walk around the field adjacent tothe nursery.

David has shown them how to grind wheat into flour. They then learn howto make bread from the flour.

In the nursery, the children are encouraged to help with snacks, andprepare meals such as fishcakes and meatballs, as they are more likelyto eat food they have helped to make. They also help to makesmoothies.

Red Hen even extends its passion for food to the parents, and runsparent-and-child cookery mornings where the parents prepare lunch andthen everyone sits down to eat it together.

HIGHLY COMMENDED

- London Early Years Foundation, London

London Early Years Foundation, formerly Westminster Children's Society,sees healthy eating as an extension of the group's commitment to bestpractice. The chefs plan the menus with the children, and once a weekthe children help them to cook a range of healthy recipes. It also holdsregular cooking workshops for parents.

- Woodlands Nursery, Altrincham, Cheshire

Much of the food served at the nursery is sourced locally, and thechildren grow their own herbs and vegetables. Menus are rotated sochildren are given a variety of foods reflecting a diversity ofcultures. A qualified Sure Start dietician regularly checks themenus.

FINALISTS

- Eureka! Nursery, Halifax

- Forbes Nursery, Edinburgh

- Kids 1st Day Nurseries, Gateshead

- Willow Cottage Nurseries, Oxford

CRITERION

Open to early years settings promoting healthy eating.

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