Congratulations on your Food for Life award. What steps did you take to achieve it?
Thank you. We carried out quite a lot of research into what would be the most sustainable, ethical way to purchase the food for our setting. We wanted to make sure the children eat seasonal and nutritious organic food but also have an awareness of the choices they can make as consumers.
We fully involve children in the process from growing in the garden, tasting sessions and in prepping and cooking their meals. Every day the meals are themed to a country linked to the ethnicity of one of the children. We link the learning to recycling, community trips to the fishmonger, and such like.
How important is it to you that you provide healthy and nutritious food to the children in your care?
Extremely important. We know that good nutrition is essential for growth, emotional and physical well-being. Research suggests that when children learn how to eat well in their early years they develop good habits for life. Getting our portion sizes right and ordering wisely has meant that our organic and free-range commitment is no more expensive than not buying in this way.
You’ve recently been accredited as a Living Wage Employer. What was the reason behind the move and how have you been able to achieve this?
We have four full-time fully trained childcare practitioners in-house, with three on the floor at any time.
We recognise that front-line staff are the foundation of any childcare organisation so it seems obvious that they should be treated with dignity and respect and remunerated accordingly. However, this is a complex issue and the Government directives around the provision of 30 free hours and the general debate on childcare affordability impacts many childcare companies’ ability to follow our lead.
What’s next for Maisie Poppins Childcare?
Watch this space for an expansion of our Forest School sessions and related toy range. We also want to open an affordable nursery with plenty of outside space. Personally, I am also committed to campaigning and advisory work, supporting opportunities for early years, raising SEND awareness as well as supporting issues pertinent to early years staff.