Staff and children have lots to celebrate at Tootsies - it is the second time that they have won the Nursery Food award.
Tootsies, which runs two nurseries, first impressed Nursery World's judges in 2011 and its fantastic food ethos has won them over again. Nursery chef Tristian Strover's skills in the kitchen and passion for food continues to inspire children, staff and parents alike. He plans and prepares all the menus, which meet the Children's Food Trust Eat Better, Start Better nutritional guidelines, and caters for all age ranges, starting with complementary feeding and finger foods for children around six months and working up to food and portions suitable for those at four years.
Judges noted, 'The menus comprise of recipes that are varied and interesting, attractively presented and tasty and nutritious, as well as cooked from scratch. For example, fish fingers and spaghetti hoops are homemade, sausages are made with the chef's own sausage machine so he knows exactly what is going in them, and the baked beans and bread - including bagels and fruit loaf - are also homemade.'
Mealtimes are happy, social occasions for children and staff. Food is served in a calm and pleasant atmosphere and all the children are supported and encouraged to try new foods. But children's positive experiences of food are not restricted to mealtimes. A range of EYFS curriculum-linked food-related activities are also provided for the children, including growing and cooking sessions using specially designed cooking trolleys that are height adjustable.
Staff involvement is crucial to the nursery's food and healthy eating ethos and everyone receives nutrition training from the chef and area manager, including portion control and supporting 'selective eaters'. There are also good links with the community through weekend food events and a strong involvement with Farnham Foodbank.
Parents are encouraged to take part in food activities such as gardening, there is a Tootsies' recipe book for them to use at home and they are invited to join their children for meals on special occasions when they can get involved in recipe sharing and menu ideas.
Busy Bees Children's Day Nursery, Durham
The children at Busy Bees are actively involved in the nursery's menu planning. They are consulted on what they like and have regular discussions about healthy eating to help them to make informed choices. Healthy eating is encouraged outside nursery hours by the provision of fruit bags and nutritional snacks for children to take home. This has meant many parents have stopped bringing sweets when they collect their children.
The nursery serves outstanding homemade food and uses local suppliers for its organic eggs and dairy produce. Care is taken to offer different sources of protein and a range of carbohydrates, and meals are flavoured using a diverse range of herbs and spices rather than adding salt. The chef liaises with parents to ensure that children's weaning, dietary and allergy requirements are carefully catered for.
Young Friends Nursery, Hove, Sussex
Tibbi Tots (Busy Bees group), Southport, Merseyside
Open to early years settings whose approach to, and provision of, nutritious food promotes children's health and well-being.
Sponsored by Kellogg's