Lucy Shipton, EYN Partnership Registered Dietitian
When I started the adventure of working for the Early Years Nutrition Partnership I was clear in my mind what it was I wanted to achieve. I have worked as a clinical dietitian for many years and have witnessed first hand the effects of poor diets and eating habits. I believed that working in partnership with early years settings in order to lay the foundations for healthy eating habits in young children enabling them to achieve better outcomes was an opportunity I could passionately embrace.
And boy, what an opportunity it is proving to be. Yes we are still in the beginning phase of this amazing programme but the response I have had from early years settings has been wonderful. I have met directors who share my true belief that what young children are taught about food and wellbeing will stay with them into adulthood. With that shared vision we will explore ways together to continuously improve and fly the flag for their excellent food provision. I’ve met cooks and chefs who undertake their role with such enthusiasm and initiative. I have been truly impressed by the excellent practice taking place and the genuine desire to learn and develop further. I have observed very young children enjoying mealtimes as a social occasion, showing independence and tasting and exploring different foods.
The Quality Mark acts as a tool to work with in order to promote excellent practice around meal, snack and drink provision and looks at early years settings approach to food and nutrition as whole. It allows the recognition of good practice but also gives the possibility for continuous improvement, which is both exciting and innovative. The response to the provision of a CACHE Level 3 award in early years nutrition and hydration has likewise been fantastic. Early years practitioners are looking to develop their professional skills and to have the opportunity to study nutrition specifically for the age group they work with and to have the support of a registered nutritionist or dietitian has been extremely well received.
Working with such passionate and motivated settings using the Early Years Nutrition Partnership resources I am looking forward to the journey ahead and to developing some great working relationships that will ultimately benefit the future health of the young children attending the nurseries.
If you feel strongly like me about the importance of getting food right for children in their earliest years, please join me in spreading the word about the Early Years Nutrition Partnership by sharing this article. We really can make a difference.