NUTRITION POLICY 

 

Background

 Good nutrition is essential to healthy living and enables children to be active participants in play and leisure. Education and care settings provide many opportunities for children to experience a range of healthy foods and to learn about food choices from educators and other children (Early Years Learning Framework, page 30; Framework for School Age Care, page 30).

Policy statement

This Policy details the Centre’s approach to mealtimes when the food and beverages consumed by children while at the Centre are provided by their parents. It also describes the way educators use mealtimes for a happy and social occasion, and for developing lifelong healthy food choices.  

 Strategies and practices

 

  • The Centre’s Nutrition, Food and Beverage Policy is explained to families at enrolment. Parents are provided with information about nutritious, age-appropriate food and drink, and with healthy lunch box tips. QA 2.2.1
  • At enrolment, parents provide the Centre with details of their child’s food and drink allergies and of any cultural preferences in food.  The enrolment form has provision for parents to provide the Centre with details of any special dietary requirements (e.g. allergies, culture, religion, food preferences). Parents are asked to update this information when any changes occur.  This information is needed for those times when children may be offered items not from home (e.g. birthday cake, cooking). QA 2.1.1, 2.2.1
  • With the exception of drinking water, parents supply all of their children’s food and drink requirements while at the Centre and for excursions. Parents are encouraged to pack in their children’s lunch boxes only food that is consistent with Get Up & Grow: Healthy Eating and Physical Activity for Early Childhood, and/or Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents in Australia. QA 2.2.1 
  • The healthy eating message is promoted and positively reinforced amongst families through notice boards, newsletters, educator-parent discussions, the Centre’s website and up-to-date materials from recognised authorities. QA 2.2.1 
  • Educators promote healthy eating in children by including the topic in daily routines, modeling, discussions, songs, stories, games, and cooking experiences. QA 2.2.1
  • Meal times are relaxed, pleasant and unhurried. Children choose what to eat from their lunch boxes. Educators sit and may eat with the children, maintaining good personal nutrition. They help them open any sealed containers, and talk with them on topics of interest, including, but not limited to, healthy food and nutrition. QA 2.3.1, 5.1.2 
  • The Centre maintains a current list and of children with special food requirements for health or medical reasons (e.g. allergies, intolerances).  Children who suffer anaphylaxis reaction have a photo/action plan. This information is displayed in the food preparation areas, eating areas and strategically throughout the Centre. Relief educators are informed of these dietary requirements when they begin their shift. QA 2.1.1 
  • Developmentally appropriate eating utensils and furniture are provided for each child. Children, including toddlers, are encouraged to be independent and develop social skills at meal times. QA 2.2.1  
  • Food is never used to reward or punish children. QA 2.2.1
  • Whilst children are encouraged to eat healthy food from their lunchboxes, they are not required to eat food they do not like or to eat more than they want. QA 2.2.1
  • Safe drinking water is readily accessible to children at all times, and educators encourage children to drink water at frequent intervals. QA 2.2.1 
  • Children who are hungry at other than meal times are given food from their lunch boxes or fruit if lunch boxes are empty QA 2.2.1 
  • Educators follow all regulatory food handling and hygiene practices at meal times. These include hand washing, wearing gloves, using tongs to handle food; ensuring children do not share eating utensils or use those that have been dropped. (Refer to the Centre’s Food Preparation, Storage and Handling Policy). QA 2.1.3
  • Parents are informed of their child’s food and beverage intake either verbally or written in the child’s Communication Book (infants) and by the return home of unopened and uneaten food in lunch boxes   Educators discuss face-to-face with parents any concerns about a child who has not eaten well.

QA 2.2.1

 

  • Educators monitor the safety and suitability of foods for Long Day Care children. They send home food items such as chips, chocolate and lollies. Children attending Vacation Care may bring some treat food, but it is expected that most of the food in their lunch boxes will comply with nutritional guidelines.  Vacation Care children are on holiday and it is a rite of passage to have treats during this time. As older children they are able to recognize the difference between sometimes food and healthy food. Educators will have discussions with children about this.  However, if a child is presenting too often with an imbalance of sometimes vs healthy food educators will address this with families. QA 2.3.1 
  • Babies are fed individually by educators. QA 2.2.1 
  • Children’s lunch boxes are stored in the refrigerator until meal times (Refer to the Centre’s Food Preparation, Storage and Handling Policy). Any food requiring warming is also heated according to that Policy.  QA 2.2.1 
  • Birthdays are an important part of a child’s life, and educators and children are encouraged to celebrate them at the Centre. Parents are welcome to bring a cake to share with the children but a full list of ingredients also needs to be provided. Cakes will be covered with cling wrap when there are candles to be blown out QA 2.2.1 
  • The Centre and educators take all reasonable steps to ensure children are not exposed to nuts and nut products and families are strongly encouraged not to send these foods. Children are actively discouraged from sharing food. Educators remove from lunch boxes any products suspected of containing nuts, and these products returned to parents when they collect their child. Parents are then given a note reminding them of the importance of excluding nuts while children attend the centre. Where there are cultural traditions around the use of peanut products extra care will be taken to explain to families why peanuts are unsuitable for child care settings, and find solutions for providing alternatives. QA 2.2.1
  • Educators receive current information on nutrition for young children, with special regard to cultural preferences when appropriate. QA 2.2.1  

Additional safe practices for babies  

  • Educators follow the Centre’s written Expressed Breast Milk (EBM) and Formula – Storing and Heating Procedure when storing and heating babies’ bottles.  QA 2.2.1

 

Responsibilities of parents 

  • To provide food and beverages for their child which are consistent with the Centre’s Nutrition, Food and Beverage Policy.
  • To provide the Centre with details of their child’s known food allergies at enrolment, and to inform the Centre immediately any changes occur. 
  • To discuss their child’s food allergies, if any, with them (older children) and to ensure they understand the importance of not sharing food.

Links to other policies 

  • Enrolment and Orientation Policy
  • Excursion Policy
  • Injuries, Injury, Trauma and Illness Policy
  • Medical Conditions Policy
  • Student, Volunteers and Visitors Policy

 

Links Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011, National Quality Standard 2011

Regs

77

Health, hygiene and safe food practices

78

Food and beverages

90

Medical conditions policy

91

Medical conditions policy to be provided to parents

162

Health information to be kept in enrolment record

168

Education and care service must have policies and procedures

 

QA

2.1.1

Each child’s health needs are supported

 

2.1.3

Effective hygiene practices are promoted and implemented

 

2.2.1

Healthy eating is promoted and food and drinks provided by the service are nutritious and appropriate for each child

 

2.3.1

Children are adequately supervised at all times

 

2.3.2

Every reasonable precaution is taken to protect children from harm and any hazard likely to cause injury

 

5.1.2

Every child is able to engage with educators in meaningful, open interactions that support the acquisition of skills for life and learning

 

Sources, further reading and useful websites

 

Sources

 

Further reading

  Useful websites

Policy review 

The Centre encourages staff and parents to be actively involved in the annual review of each of its policies and procedures. In addition, the Centre will accommodate any new legislative changes as they occur and any issues identified as part the Centre’s commitment to quality improvement. The Centre consults with relevant recognised authorities as part of the annual review to ensure the policy contents are consistent with current research and contemporary views on best practice.

 

Date(s) reviewed: May 2013

 Next review Date: May 2014