CONSIDERATIONS:
Philosophy:  To encourage and educate children and their families to eat healthy and to be active.
Legislation: Education and Care Services National Regulation, Food Act 2003 and in accordance with the guidelines from the Dietary Guide for Children, Good for Kids Good for Life Children’s Needs. To be encouraged to make healthier food choices.
Parents Needs: Information to assist them to make healthy food choices for their children. Clear policies and procedures to follow.
Staff Needs: Encourage communication with families about the provision of appropriate healthy food and drinks for children while they are attending the service.
Management: To promote healthy food and drinks based on the Australian Guide to Healthy Needs Eating and the Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents.

POLICY STATEMENT:
The Denman Children’s Centre recognises the importance of healthy eating in the growth and development of young children. Dietary patterns of many Australian children are less than optimal with high consumption of salt and saturated fat, and low consumption of fruit and vegetables. Given that children are spending more time in centre based care, our educators will role model healthy eating and encourage young children to make healthier food choices.  We promote whole foods keeping the highly processed packaged foods to a minimum.

Our service is committed to implementing the healthy key messages outlined in Munch and Move and to supporting the National Healthy Eating Guidelines for Early Childhood Settings. Our centre has a two year plan; by 2016 the centre will become a ‘Nude Food’ only centre.

Furthermore, the Denman Children’s Centre recognises the importance of supporting families in providing healthy food and drink to their children: both at the service and at home.

IMPLEMENTATION:
Promote healthy food and drinks based on the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating and the Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents.

The service will:

  • Provide information to families on the types of foods and drinks recommended for children and suitable for children’s lunchboxes.
  • Encourage children to eat the more nutritious foods provided in their lunchbox, such as sandwiches, fruit, cheese and yoghurt, before eating any less nutritious food provided.
  • Discourage the provision of highly processed snack foods high in fat, salt and sugar and low in essential nutrients in children’s lunchboxes (see health lunchbox suggestion sheet attached).
  • Ensure that food and beverages provided are nutritious and adequate in quantity and are offered at regular intervals in the day.
  • A small piece of fruit must be packed for fruit break. Children will be encouraged to eat fruit at fruit break at approximately 10.00am.
  • Lunch time is at 11.00am, children will be encouraged to eat their sandwiches/ wraps or rolls before being able to choose something else from their lunchbox to eat.
  • Afternoon tea is offered at 2.30pm, children are able to choose any remanding items from their lunchbox to eat.
  • Ensure water is readily available for children to drink throughout the day. A clearly labeled drink bottle containing water will be brought from home; this will be placed in a cart where children will have access to it at all times throughout the day. The cart will be taken outside during outside play and brought back inside during indoor play.  Water is also available at any time throughout the day. Spare water bottles are available if children forget one from home.
  • Sending a small serving of plain reduced fat or ‘lite’ milk for lunchtime is encouraged, long life poppers are preferable as they require no special transporting requirements, however if you are sending fresh milk it must be transported in an insulated container with frozen “cooler bricks” (e.g. an esky with a freezer brick). Any unfinished milk will be discarded.
  • Be aware of children with food allergies, food intolerances and special dietary needs and consult with families to determine specific food related requirements and develop individual management plans.
  • Records will be kept of children and their allergies, clearly visible for the educators in the food severing area. As well as certain foods that have been banned from the centre due to children’s allergies. (Please see the attached page of foods not permitted at the Denman Children’s Centre).
  • Minimise the risk of choking through provision of appropriate foods and supervision.
  • Encourage and provide opportunities for educators to undertake regular professional development such as Munch and Move to maintain and enhance their knowledge and skills related to early childhood nutrition, food safety and hygiene.Provide food to children that has been stored, and served in a safe and hygienic manner and promote hygienic food practices.
  • Ensure children and educators wash and dry their hands (using soap, running water and single use or disposable towels) before handling food or eating meals and snacks. Children’s hand-washing practices are observed at all times (see Hygiene & Infection Control Policy).
  • Parents will be required to put labeled lunchboxes into the fridge & drink bottles into the cart upon arrival at the centre and collect them out of the fridge & cart when leaving in the afternoon. As there is limited space in the fridge please only send a medium size lunchbox.
  • Educators will complete a temperature check each morning at 8.30am and record the temperature on the Temperature Control Log located on each fridge. Lunchboxes will be stored at or below 5˚.
  • When reheating left over meals from home educators will reheat the food rapidly to 60°C or hotter using a clean thermometer to check temperature.
  • Discourage children from handling other children’s food.

Provide a positive eating environment which reflects cultural and family values.

  • Ensure that educators sit with the children at meal and snack times to role model healthy food and drink choices and actively engage children in conversations about the food and drink.
  • Endeavour to recognise, nurture and celebrate the dietary differences of children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
  • Create a relaxed atmosphere at mealtimes where children have enough time to eat and enjoy their food as well as enjoying the social interactions with educators and other children.
  • Encourage older toddlers and preschoolers to assist to collect their lunch boxes from the fridge and drinks from the trolley to foster children’s independence and self-esteem.
  • Respect each child’s appetite. If a child is not hungry or is satisfied, educators do not insist he/she eats.
  • Be patient with messy or slow eaters.
  • Encourage children to try different / new foods but will not force them to eat.
  • Not use food as a reward or withhold food from children for disciplinary purposes.
  • Cupcakes are permitted to celebrate a child’s Birthday.
  • The centre maintains its NUT FREE policy in which we do not allow any peanut or nut based products. This policy will be reviewed according to children attending the centre with allergies.
  • Staff will complete an audit on children’s lunch boxes and drink bottles. Foods that are inappropriate at preschool will be repacked in the child’s lunchbox with a note stating that it is not appropriate; if possible staff will talk to the parent on collection as well. Emergency food is available such as fruit, bread to make a sandwich and water to drink.
  • A variety of healthy foods will help to ensure a well balanced diet is provided and good food habits are developed. Please see our attached page of food suggestions to send to preschool.
  • Foster awareness and understanding of healthy food and drink choices through including in the children’s program a range of learning experiences encouraging children’s healthy eating.
  • Encourage children to participate in a variety of ‘hands-on’ food preparation experiences.
  • Provide opportunities for children to engage in discovery learning and discussion about healthy food and drink choices.

Encourage communication with families about the provision of appropriate healthy food and drinks for children while they are attending the service.

  • Provide a copy of the Nutrition Policy to all families upon orientation at the service.
  • Ensure educators take time to discuss mealtimes with families and that families are regularly informed about the quantity their child is eating.
  • Communicate regularly with families about food and nutrition related experiences within the service and provide up to date information to assist families to provide healthy food choices at home.
  • Communicate regularly with families and provide information and advice on appropriate food and drink to be included in children’s lunchboxes. This information may be provided to families in a variety of ways including newsletters, during orientation, information sessions and informal discussion.
  • Celebrate special occasions with limited use of ‘sometimes’ foods, and with no special focus on food. Alternatives to using foods to celebrate are considered.

Source:
Munch and Move Resource Manual
Community Childcare Co-Operative
Previous Centre Policy (2009)

Related Policies:
Hygiene & Infection Control
Anaphylaxis and Severe Allergy
Bottle Safety and Preparation
Sustainability Policy