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‘Food for Life Served Here’ Award for Childbase Partnership nurseries

Childbase Partnership has won a prestigious ‘Food for Life Served Here’ Award because its approach to nutrition goes much further than the high-quality; home-cooked meals served in its 41 day nurseries.

Not only are the 6,000 children in nurseries from Nottingham to Swindon loving their ‘salt and added sugar-free’ diet and learning about the foods that support healthy growth and development, they are getting home-cooked meals with ingredients sourced from suppliers committed to environmentally sustainable and ethical  production.

In congratulating Childbase Partnership on their award, and praising them for their passionate approach to nutrition, David Persaud, ‘Food For Life Served Here’ Midlands Development Manager, said:

“It is no mean feat to achieve a Food For Life Served Here award and to do so for so many nurseries is fantastic. Having seen first-hand how the teams prepare the food and involve the children in activities with food they are creating a wonderful food culture and lasting foundations for the children to have positive relationships with food throughout their lives.”

Childbase Partnership Chef, Deborah Rose, at the Ofsted-rated ‘Outstanding’ River View Day Nursery in Hertford, says her diners may be under five years but they are treated no differently than the royalty and leading politicians she has catered to during her career.

“People forget that children have taste buds too and that they like change if they have a say in it. Showing them ingredients before they are cooked and asking them what they liked or disliked about a dish is hugely important,” she said during a tour of the age appropriate rooms at the day nursery to gather feedback on one of the children’s favourite meals, of lentil tortilla wraps.

“Asking children for their opinions on dishes gives me the opportunity to tweak recipes with more or less spice, or the way it is presented, and means they are actually thinking about what they are eating which is exactly what we want them to do now and in the future,” she added.

Childbase Partnership, which favours a simple supply chain so that food can be traced and monitored from producer to nursery dining table, serves up to 6.24 million home-cooked meals and snacks a year using Red Tractor and RSPCA Assured meats; fish from certified sustainable sources, Free Range Eggs and absolutely no undesirable trans fats, sweeteners or additives.

Heavy investment in research; menus endorsed by leading nutritionists and chef training has always been prioritised at Childbase Partnership according to its Health, Safety and Environment Manager, Mark Bird, who has been overseeing the new menus which include meat-free days and an even greater range of plant based meals and snacks.

“We expected parents to welcome the new menus, given the research and evidence supporting them, but have been surprised by the number of messages praising the move and detailing children’s preference for treats like Oat and Banana Balls, over chocolate and sweets offered outside nursery,” he said, adding that the company was looking at producing a recipe book following repeated requests from parents.

The work by nursery Chefs in the kitchens is underpinned by staff in the play and learning rooms reinforcing the importance of good nutrition to healthy lifestyles with colourful wall displays and activities designed to capture the imagination.

In fact food plays a pivotal role in most activities from celebrating diversity in marking multicultural festivals with traditional foods, to growing herbs and vegetables in nursery gardens where children also learn maths, science and conservation messages.

It is also impacting the many green initiatives at the company which has been powered by electricity from renewable sources like the sun and wind for nearly 17 years.

“The focus on the quality of our food has led to increased efforts to reduce its waste so food leftovers are measured to help inform portion size and adjust menus to reflect differing tastes and preferences in individual nurseries,” said Mark Bird.

“Composting is also being introduced in nurseries and, together with vegetable growing activities in special garden allotment areas, provides valuable learning opportunities for children and supports our ‘Eco-School Project’ initiatives,” he added.

The ‘Food for Life Served Here’ accreditation is subject to annual inspections to ensure strict adherence to the criteria is maintained and improved, when possible, taking into account the latest research.