More than 70 staff from 45 nurseries in Liverpool, including PVI settings, took part in the pilot Food and Nutrition in Early Years course at John Moores University.
The 30-hour course was funded by Liverpool First for Health and Wellbeing Partnership and developed by the local charity Heart of Mersey and HM Partnerships, following a survey that found many nurseries lack the knowledge to provide healthy meals for children in line with the Caroline Walker Trust guidelines.
The survey's findings contributed to the evidence in the nursery food review, which is calling for training for all early years workers (see News, page 4).
Topics on the intensive course, aimed at nursery managers and chefs, included young children's nutrient requirements, allergies and special diets and menu planning. On the final day, participants demonstrated what they had learned.
Julie Macklin, project officer at HM Partnerships, said the course gave participants greater knowledge and confidence, which helped them put changes in place to the food in their settings.
HM Partnerships managing director Mike Parker said, 'It is clear from all the research that many early years settings were not meeting nutritional requirements. However, all nurseries who enrolled on our course were able to facilitate changes to their menus that will have positive impacts on the nutritional health and future food choices for thousands of children.'
Andrea Vaughan, daycare manager at Everton Nursery School and Family Centre, who attended the course with the nursery's cook, said, 'It has had such a positive impact. It's helped us understand the nutritional needs of very young children and improved the communication between myself and our cook.
'We have looked at our portion sizes and made significant changes to the children's snacks. We've also started to work with parents more and consulted them on our new menus.'
HM Partnerships is now looking for funding to offer the training to other nurseries.