Julia Wolman, EYN Partnership Registered Nutritionist
I have been working with the Early Years Nutrition Partnership for six months and the response has been fantastic! I have formed relationships with 13 nurseries across London so far. Many of these settings are already demonstrating good nutrition practice and, with my support, are keen to do even better.
Through the EYN Partnership I am providing nurseries with a unique chance to receive expert and bespoke advice to improve their food provision and to undertake credible nutrition training. These opportunities don’t come about frequently and I have found that managers welcome this offering with open arms. Quite often they may have been thinking about making food-related changes for a while, for example, bringing in more variety to menus, changing meal timings, or policy development. With all the day-to-day demands of working in an early years setting, these good intentions often need support from an external person to make them a reality. So I feel like I’m being more than just a nutritionist – I’m also a facilitator, a vehicle for change, helping to make ideas happen.
For example, one of my settings works on a week-by-week basis with their meal plans which therefore becomes quite time consuming to put together each week. Having explained to them the various types of menu-cycles that other nurseries use, together we discussed the options and agreed a more practical system that would work for them going forwards. They have since enthusiastically started putting this into action.
Another setting has committed to making changes to their meal and snack timings. Prior to becoming involved in the EYN Partnership programme, they were offering lunch and then an afternoon snack/light tea at 4pm. Having children in their care until 6pm I questioned whether this routine provided enough food for them. I suggested that an afternoon snack and separate tea would ensure the children have optimum energy and nutrient intake in the second half of the day. The manager said she had been thinking about this for a while, so with my gentle nudge was only too willing to alter their food provision timings.
So in my EYN Partnership experience so far I am finding that it is not only about bettering the actual foods provided, but also enhancing management of the food provision. And with each nursery having completely different ways of working, and varying requirements, it makes my role with the EYN Partnership an extremely diverse, exciting and rewarding one!