A ‘diligent food culture’ and an ‘inspirational chef’ were just two of the factors that helped Townhouse Nursery, part of the Village Nursery Group, to wow our judges.
At Townhouse Nursery, food is not only healthy and fresh but fun as well. Making mealtimes an animated occasion involves setting up the environment with background music and placing visual menus on each table.
Staff join in and talk with children about what is on offer. A child helper is appointed to assist with setting tables, fetching equipment from the kitchen and helping with self-service. The resulting sense of responsibility and confidence becomes inextricably linked with the enjoyable experience of eating for each child.
Appropriate portion sizes are a priority and the nursery follows the Eat Better, Do Better voluntary food guidelines. Dietary and cultural needs of children are met by the staff and a nursery meals nutrition co-ordinator, while menus embrace a wide variety of cultures and cuisines, providing opportunities to try a range of different foods – often through exciting activities and experiences.
Cultural dietary needs are shared with staff and the nursery meals and nutrition co-ordinator as part of their induction. These needs are displayed in the kitchen and in all rooms, with kitchen staff trained to meet requirements, such as preparing food in a certain way or providing Halal meet and storing it correctly.
Eat Better, Do Better is also helping to reduce the amount of food waste. Sustainability is a key focus for the nursery and where possible it uses its local farm shop to source fresh meat, fruit and vegetables, and prioritises serving seasonal produce.
Townhouse's food policy is shared with all parents and is included in the induction pack they initially receive. Its parent partnerships give staff and parents the scope to talk about any concerns relating to children's health and support is offered with information routed from professional services such as health visitors and dieticians.
One judge noted that ‘food support to families and the community is exceptional with various events throughout the year including parent workshops, grandparents' events and a town community event’. Currently the nursery is gearing up for a new series of events including cookery workshops, garden growing projects and strategies to deal with fussy eaters.
Food's role in enhancing learning within the EYFS is also continuing to evolve. Cooking activities and gardening give children the opportunity to work with others while developing communication, motor skills, maths skills, and learning about where food comes from.
There is no chance of standards slipping. Townhouse's nutrition co-ordinator and cook continuously evaluate the food and drink provision and keep up to date with latest good practice in meeting the welfare requirements of the EYFS and Eat Better, Do Better. Parents' feedback is vital when it comes to planning seasonal menus and spotting areas that need more development.
As our judges observed, ‘Children enjoy well-balanced mealtimes and were proficient at preparing and serving food, as well as enjoying the many food-related experiences on offer.’ Children's love of good food and mealtimes is clearly testament to the success of the nursery's approach.
“The nursery chef disseminates her passion, knowledge and good practice as well as training staff throughout other nurseries owned by this group. As a result staff are confident yet calm in their approach which benefits all the children from babies to pre-schoolers
Spring Cedars and Beacon, Spring by Action for Children, Exeter
Open to early years settings whose approach to and provision of nutritious food promotes children's health and well-being