Providing sustainable food in an early years setting, such as a day nursery or school, is essential for promoting healthy living and reducing our environmental impact. Here are our tips for ensuring that your food is both healthy and sustainable.
Our 10 Tips
- Gradually transition to a more plant-based diet, replacing meat such as beef, lamb, and pork with lentils, beans, and a wide variety of fruit and vegetables.
- Consider supplying oat milk instead of dairy milk as it has a much lower carbon footprint, uses less land and water, and can help reduce obesity.
- Work with your suppliers to ensure they are also committed to sustainability. Look for suppliers who source food locally and seasonally, to minimize transport carbon emissions and support the local economy. They should have an Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) or Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility (CSER) policy that they can share with you. Also try to buy green gas and renewable electricity from your suppliers.
- Minimize excess packaging and avoid plastic bags. Ask suppliers to use re-usable crates, glass milk bottles, and to allow the return of packaging.
- Check food labeling when buying food, choosing Fairtrade, Red Tractor, Soil Association organic standards, RSPCA assured, and similar options to try and buy more sustainable products.
- Invest in fridges, freezers, and cookers with the highest energy and sustainability rating that you can afford, with a minimum rating of B, to reduce energy use.
- When cooking food, consider using slow cookers and microwaves instead of ovens, hobs, and grills. Additionally, raw food is cheaper to supply and retains more nutrients than cooked food.
- Engage children in food preparation, food choices, trying new foods, and serving themselves, to give them more knowledge and tools to make healthier food and drink choices, setting them up for a healthy life.
- Consider engaging in an accreditation such as Food for Life, Eco-schools, Healthy Early Years to structure your actions and engage with children and parents.
- Develop your own ESG or CSER policy and Climate Change and Sustainability Action Plan to help focus everyone in your setting or school on the sustainability journey, and learn from each other and experts.
By following these tips, you can provide nutritious and sustainable food to the children in your early years setting, while also promoting healthy living and reducing your environmental impact.
At Tops Day Nurseries, we are one of the UK’s leading eco-sustainable childcare providers and big believers in healthy eating. Our Catering Manager, Pete, is constantly creating varied and exciting meals, he has designed a balanced menu to support growth and development using the Children’s Food Trust recommendations.
At Tops we create healthy sustainable meals that you can cook at home, if you would like to read some of our nutritious recipes click here.