The Early Years Nutrition Partnership (EYN Partnership) is working to improve the future health outcomes of young children by setting a standard for nutrition practice in early years settings. As part of this goal, the EYN Partnership has introduced a ‘Quality Mark’ which is designed to recognise good practice in food and nutrition in early years settings.
Achieving the Quality Mark will help to:
- Enhance your reputation;
- Support the statutory framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). Learning about food and healthy eating can be linked to the EYFS curriculum;
- Provide evidence for Ofsted with regards to healthy eating;
- Provide assurance to parents and carers that your setting meets a high standard in food provision and other nutrition related activities;
- Create partnerships with parents and carers to support healthy eating and positive lifestyle habits so that they can continue to support these at home.
The Quality Mark represents the attainment of specific quality standards in menu provision, the eating environment, and education. Having excellent nutrition practice in your setting involves:
- Meeting food based standards: ensuring children in your care receive the right balance of foods and drinks to help healthy physical and mental development;
- Meeting non-food based standards: food is much more than a series of nutrients, it’s a fundamental part of our lives. Eating occasions can help children to develop social skills, learn to respect others and share. Food and its use is integral to educational development.
A setting’s journey towards achieving the EYN Partnership Quality Mark is tracked through self-assessment, with support and a final review by an EYN Partnership Registered Nutrition Professional.
Food and non-food based criteria
The food based criteria are divided into mealtime occasions (breakfast, lunch, tea and snacks). There are also criteria for foods and drinks which span across the day including drinks and foods high in fat, sugars and salt. In each case the criteria cover the foods that are to be encouraged and foods that should be restricted. Guidance is provided on how often to provide foods from different groups and also on encouraging variety in the types of foods provided. A helpful guide on each of the 4 food groups, including portion size information, is provided for settings on their Quality Mark journey.
While good food and drink provision is fundamental and needs to be demonstrated to achieve the Quality Mark, there are also other criteria that need to be met to demonstrate a ‘whole setting approach’ to good nutrition practice. The non-food based criteria cover the food environment, managing special diets, working with parents, and education on food and health.
Recognition at different levels
The EYN Partnership believes that making a commitment to improve the nutrition of young children in your setting deserves recognition and therefore a Committed certificate is given to your setting when you sign up for the Quality Mark, even before you have been assessed.
The Accredited level recognises that your setting demonstrates good practice in promoting nutrition and hydration for children in your care. It reassures parents that you are meeting healthy eating requirements. It supports the Ofsted Common Inspection Framework by showing that your setting provides children with healthy balanced and nutritious meals, snacks and drinks.
The Advanced level builds on the Accredited level and helps your setting to develop nutrition practice further.
The Specialist level is awarded to your setting if you are assessed by the EYN Partnership expert panel as being excellent and innovative in your food, nutrition and hydration provision.