We‘re over the moon to have achieved the EYN Partnership (EYNP) Quality Mark Accreditation in record time!
We first heard about EYNP on Twitter! We had already been looking at different schemes we could join, and Cassie, the Manager here at Archfield mentioned that she had heard about the EYNP on Twitter. It seemed the most relevant for what we wanted to achieve for the children as it was more focused on improving nutrition practice in the early years, rather than only focusing on things like organic food, as some other schemes do.
When Alison first came in, we had a thorough look at what we were doing and where we were with our menus. Alison suggested some small tweaks and changes and luckily, we didn’t have to overhaul the whole menu.
We are always very open and honest with parents with any changes that are taking place at the nursery and we communicated with them about the work we were going to carry out with Alison and the EYNP. Initially, we had a few objections from parents, asking us why we were cutting down on meat on the menus and if this was because we wanted to cut costs. We had to explain that this wasn’t the reason at all and that we needed to add in more variety by including more fish and vegetables to the menus, in order to make them more balanced. Alison helped us to get all the different components of the menus right, ensuring we had a healthy balance of all the different food groups.
Before we had the support from Alison and the EYNP, it was sometimes challenging to explain to parents why we were making changes to the food we provided. One of the big positives of working with Alison was being able to say that we had a nutritionist working with us on the menus and she was helping us to make the food we provide healthier and more balanced.
Once everything was explained, parents gave us really positive feedback. Many tell us their children prefer the nursery food to what they eat at home and we are inundated with requests for our recipes! For the last six months, we’ve put the recipes into our monthly newsletter for the parents which they really appreciate. The positive changes we’ve been making at the nursery, have encouraged parents to make changes at home too. We hope that by helping children and their families to have a healthy start in life, they will have the best chance at a happy and healthy future.
We are also introducing a ‘no celebration cakes’ policy as we have been receiving a lot of cakes from parents around birthdays or celebrations. We’ve had a no added sugar and no added salt policy in our menus for the last twelve months and this wasn’t being enforced when there were instances of three birthday cakes in one week! We have overhauled our food policy, with Alison’s input, and we will launch this next month. The ‘no celebration cakes’ element of the policy is just one of the things we’ve clarified in our whole setting approach to health and nutrition.
Five staff members representing different age groups within the nursey have now completed the level 2 Cache course. We decided on this approach as they are the ones directly dealing with the children and then they were able to feedback what they had learned to the rest of their team.
Moving forward, Alison is helping us to plan an evening with our parents to educate about balanced meals and portion sizes. We are also planning a similar event for the staff here at Archfield, as it’s so important for our staff to have access to the same nutritional guidance as our children and parents.
Alison has been a great support, and she’s always just a phone call away if we need her advice. We are also incredibly lucky that the nursery management team has been so supportive of the changes that we wanted to make.
Nutrition plays such an important part of the children’s overall development. Some of the children are here five days a week and we’re giving them all their main meals, so it’s important that they are getting the right start in life and learning healthy habits. Outside of improving our food policy at the nursery, support from the EYNP has also enabled us to improve our communication with parents and staff. We’ve gained more confidence to talk from a position of knowledge and empowerment which we didn’t have before.
By joining EYNP, a nursery is not only going to get a wealth of information on the nutrition side of things, but they are also going to get knowledge, support and confidence. We are really looking forward to working towards the advanced accreditation status and seeing what we can do to get this and are hoping to achieve that in record time as well!