Cornton Nursery was chosen by the Care Inspectorate, which regulates and inspects care services in Scotland, to host the launch of its Food Matters resource today (Mar 11).
The publication highlights the important difference nurseries, childminders and other early learning care settings can make in supporting children to develop a positive relationship with food, and the host of health, social and educational benefits this brings to children and their families.
Cornton featured among the good practice examples after being praised by inspectors in an unannounced visit in October 2016.
The nursery, which provides care for a maximum of 66 children between birth and primary school entry, was hailed as excellent – the top grading – for its quality of care and support, and for management and leadership.
It has introduced transformational initiatives to support healthy eating, including an outdoor garden to explore the value of ‘plant to plate’ experiences and a seven-week family learning programme for parents called Baby & Me.
To address health inequalities, staff also ensure families are aware of their entitlement to benefits and services that can help enhance their wellbeing, such as the Healthy Start scheme*.
Kate O’Neill, Head of the Nursery said: “Cornton Nursery and community partners are delighted to be part of the launch of Food Matters.
“With one in four children in Scotland currently living in poverty, it is essential that services like ours support children and families to have healthy bodies and minds.
“Food Matters is a wonderful example of how early years providers nationally are motivating and inspiring families to develop positive food cultures in order to thrive and succeed.”
Cllr Susan McGill, convenor of Stirling Council’s Children and Young People committee, said: “Having Cornton Nursery highlighted on the launch for the Food Matters resource is fantastic recognition for all the staff and the excellent work they have done in this area to give children the best start in life.
“The nursery supports parents and carers in innovative ways to tackle health inequalities and improve outcomes for children and families.”
Cllr Margaret Brisley, vice convenor, said: “Early years are crucial to a child’s development and it’s important that children eat well and understand the importance of healthy food.
“Cornton nursery is a shining example of good practice in this area where children are well supported, nurtured and encouraged to achieve their potential.”
Killin Nursery and Killin & Crianlarich Nursery were also praised in Food Matters for their efforts in improving the contents of children’s lunch boxes.
The Care Inspectorate wants the resource to promote a learning culture in the sector and underline the importance of children getting well-balanced, nutritious food in a supportive and nurturing environment.
Chief Executive of the Care Inspectorate, Peter Macleod said: “Eating well is essential for children in their early years. This resource celebrates the many ways in which early learning and childcare (ELC) settings are supporting children to have positive eating experiences and enjoy well-balanced, nutritious food.
“The Care Inspectorate wants to help make Scotland the best place in the world to grow up and this resource us intended to be practical, inspirational and support improvement across all early learning and childcare care services that children experience. We want to see all care services ensure children are offered well-balanced, minimally processed, nutritious and appetising meals that include fresh fruit and vegetables.
“We have worked alongside the sector to enable providers, practitioners and families to tell their own stories of how they are supporting children to eat well and enjoy good food every day. This resource compliments, and should be used alongside, NHS Health Scotland’s Setting the Table, the nutritional guidance and food standards for the ELC sector.”
Notes: *The Healthy Start scheme, the current name for the UK welfare food and vitamin scheme that aims to improve the health of pregnant women, young mums, mums-to-be and families on benefits or low income. The UK Healthy Start welfare food scheme is about to be replaced by the Best Start Foods scheme by the Scottish Government. The aim is to make it easier for children to access their entitlement to free milk by delivering it as part of the ELC funded provision.