Mary Llewellin of Snapdragons Nursery makes a heartfelt plea in ‘Get real!’ on pages 14-15 for policy-makers to support the early years sector in improving children’s nutrition and health outcomes. Moves such as ditching free infant school lunches and underfunding the free entitlement with the likely consequence of a surge in packed lunches should cause outrage, she argues.
Her point that we need to stop the disconnect between producing food and eating it by teaching young children to cook real food from scratch is well made – and how shocking that children have turned up to her nurseries not recognising an apple unless it has been sliced up for snacktime.
Food is in the news on pages 4-5, too, as we look at schemes aiming to improve nutritional standards and reduce heatlh inequalities. FareShare, where nurseries and pre-schools operating as charities can receive free surplus food from supermarkets, is really taking off, helping with health, costs and the environment.
And Food, Families, Futures in Scotland is expanding ‘holiday hunger clubs’ to help families who struggle without free school meals. The food and activities FFF provides have been found to improve learning as well as health and well-being.
Valuable though such initiatives are, we need a large-scale, co-ordinated, properly-funded strategic effort to improve the nutrition of the nation, starting from children’s earliest days. It really is a matter of life and death.