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Childhood Obesity Trailblazer Project


Early Years Family Food Environment

The Childhood Obesity Trailblazer Project is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care and managed by the Local Government Association.  It promotes a test and learn approach to try out innovative approaches to using local authority levers to address specific drivers of childhood obesity and to reduce inequalities in childhood obesity. The programme’s aims include sharing of learning and best practice with other authorities and to identify actions which government can take to deliver change at scale.


Nottinghamshire County Council were successful in being one of five Local Authorities selected to take part in this 3-year national programme. 

The purpose of the Nottinghamshire Childhood obesity trailblazer project is to:

Improve the home and community food environment of families with children in the early years living in areas of higher childhood obesity prevalence.

The focus of the Nottinghamshire project is on how the local system can positively influence, enable, and support change within the home and community food environment for families with children in the early years (under 5’s).  Our initial Trailblazer work will be focussed on areas of Nottinghamshire with the highest levels of childhood obesity (in Bassetlaw, Mansfield and Ashfield Districts). It is very much a cross Council and partnership approach bringing together skills and expertise from Public Health, Early Years and School Catering with Children’s Centre Services, Childcare and Early Years Providers, local healthy lifestyle services and importantly local parents.


Our Trailblazer programme has the following objectives:

  1. 1.    Making access to affordable healthy food for families easier

Focus groups with parents told us that time pressures due to parental and employment responsibilities and the ability to find healthy recipes can be challenging. Some families did not feel that healthy food was affordable. Time, cost, access, preparation skills were all barriers families experienced to eating healthier meals. 


What are we going to do?

  • Using the school meals supply chain, we’ll be testing out the idea of nutritionally balanced meal kit for families
  • Working with Children’s Centres to work towards centres being a community food asset for families.   Offering healthy affordable food through a FOOD Club in some Children Centre’s
  • Work with partners locally to raise awareness of Healthy Start Vouchers


  1. 2.    Improve quality of food provision through early years settings

Local childcare and nursery providers told us that they work hard to provide healthy meals and snacks to the children they look after, and they are keen to be able to provide information and advise parents and carers on healthy eating.

What are we going to do?

  • Work with local Early Year providers to understand what help and support they need and develop food and nutrition confidence, knowledge and skills
  • Test out enhancing and broadening the Council’s School meals offer to include Early Year providers


  1. 3.    Enable parents to develop good eating habits with their children

Evidence tells us that parental feeding styles and practices can have an impact on children’s eating behaviours

What are we going to do?

  • Rolling out the child feeding guide training to front line practitioners to give them the evidence based information to share with parents
  • Engage with local parents so they have a say in how the projects delivered
  • Invesitiagting ways in which we can enhance social eating opportunities within communities with a focus on the early years??


  1. 4.    Promote consistent messages on healthy food for pre-school children

The messages on healthy eating for children under 5 differ from those for older children and adults, which can make it difficult and confusing for parents and care givers to know what meals are right for young children.

What are we going to do?

  • We will create momentum and raise awareness through developing a range of simple, consistent healthy eating messages specifically targeted for early years


If you would like to discuss the project in more detail or be a partner in the project please do e mail

FOOD Clubs

Family Action has launched Food On Our Doorstep (FOOD) clubs to provide good-quality food at a low cost, while also reducing food waste. It costs just £1 a year for a family to become a member. Once you’ve joined, you can purchase a bag of tasty food items every week worth approx. £10-£15 for just £3.50! To become a member you must live or work within approximately 15 minutes of a club.

There are a number of FOOD Clubs around the County including at our Children's Centres.  To find where your nearest FOOD Club is and when it is open go to the Family Action FOOD Clubs page and click on the drop down for Nottinghamshire

You can also get in touch at

Nottinghamshire Childhood Obesity Trailblazer Programme (COTP) FOOD Clubs Participant Key Findings September 2021

The following findings are based on interviews conducted with over 20 FOOD (Food On Our Doorstep) Club participants hosted by the Children’s Centre Service at Harworth and Ravensdale in July 2021. As FOOD Club participants were collecting their weekly box, they were asked by an independent evaluator to take part in a brief interview. Most participants were happy to share their feedback and interviews varied in length from a few minutes to 15 minutes.

The key findings are presented below:

Nottinghamshire COTP Food Club Participant Report Sept 2021.JPG

Healthy Eating Resources for Early Years

Click to open these documents:

Early Years Menus Part 1: Guidance




Early Years Menus Part 2: Recipes




Eat Better Start Better




EY Menu Planning Checklist




Food Groups and Portions Guidance




 Snacks Guidance powerpoint




FFL Snacks Guidance for Under 5s




First Steps Eating Well: snacks for 1-4 years olds




Children's Healthier Eating Toolkit

Children's Healthier Eating Tookit contains ten different activities to help you support families to make positive changes to their diet, with a particular focus on making healthier swaps.

Activities are easy to run with children aged 4-11, with some activites suitable for children as young as 2, and require minimal preparation and no expert knowledge.

Click the image to open this resource


Early years choking hazards food safety advice.JPG

Food Standards Agency- Early Years Choking Hazards Food Safety Advice









Webinar on motivation, eating behaviour  in young children and diabetes in young adults from the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine at Loughborough University.  The first 30 minutes covers motivation and eating behaviour in under 5s.

Healthy Start Vitamins and Prepaid Card

Health Start Scheme

Healthy Start is a national scheme providing vitamins and support with food for pregnant women and families (with children under four) on benefits and low incomes.

Eligible pregnant women and children are also entitled to free vitamins, vitamin tablets for women and vitamin drops for children. If you have a Healthy Start Card you'll need to show your card to get your free vitamins.

Healthy Start vitamins are important because:

  • 8% of children under five in the UK don’t have enough vitamin A in their diet.*
  • Families in lower-income groups tend to have less vitamin C in their diet.*
  • All pregnant and breastfeeding women and young children are at risk of vitamin D deficiency (teenagers, younger women and those from ethnic minorities are particularly at risk).*

*Source of information-Healthy Start website.

Children Centre Service


Collection Points at Children’s Centre Service buildings:

Within Nottinghamshire it has been agreed that women and families eligible for Healthy Start will be able to collect vitamins from their local Children’s Centre and those that are not eligible for the scheme will be able to purchase vitamins from the Children’s Centres at cost price.

For the nearest Children’s Centre see:  Find your nearest Children's Centre Service team | Nottinghamshire County Council

Healthy Start prepaid card:

People who are eligible for Healthy Start receive a prepaid card worth £4.25 per week; £8.50 when their child is under a year old.

To find out more about how the scheme will work go to:The new Healthy Start Scheme – Get help to buy food and milk (Healthy Start)

Find out more about what can be bought with Healthy Start prepaid card go to:'ll-get  

Lots of shops accept Healthy Start prepaid cards, including:

  • corner shops
  • food co-ops
  • greengrocers
  • market stalls
  • milk floats or vans
  • pharmacies
  • supermarkets

You can ask a retailer if they accept Healthy Start prepaid card.

How to Apply:

Go to the Healthy Start website and click Apply Now to get started online or follow the instructions on how to apply by email or phone. 

Eligibility Checker

You can use this quick and easy Healthy Start Eligibility Calculator to find out if someone can receive Healthy Start prepaid card.

Healthy Start Resources

Healthy Start round logo

Healthy Start Webinar 

The Healthy Start webinar was delivered by Nottinghamshire County Council working in partnership with Shared Intelligence in April 2022. The webinar provides information about:

  • The importance of Healthy Start in the context of Childhood Obesity and food insecurity.
  • Food initiatives in Nottinghamshire.
  • Changes to the Healthy Start scheme.
  • How you can help promote the scheme.

The slides from this presentation can be download as a PowerPoint document for clicking the image below:

Healthy Start Webinar image PowerPoint version






This can also be viewed online or downloaded as a PDF document by clicking the image below:

Healthy Start Webinar image for PDF version







Healthy Start National Promotional Materials

The Healthy Start national team have produced a set of resources to help publicise the scheme. You can find the resources here:

NHS Business Services | Healthy Start Resource Library

Healthy Recipes

Healthy and Affordable Meals

Case StudyFamily Meal Planner Recipe Book: Easy to follow recipes for the whole family







Nottinghamshire School Meals service have lots of ideas for healthy and affordable meals like this Firework Rocket Fruit Kebab.   

The video shows you how to make this healthy fruit snack in the shape of a firework rocket (there's also a firework milk experiment at 1 min 24 seconds)

Visit the School Meals Page for the full recipe and to find more recipe suggestions and videos


Healthy recipes from Your Health Your Way Notts 




Full Time Meals with Marcus Rashford and Tom Kerridge.  Low-cost and easy-to-make recipes and instructional videos can be found on the Full Time Meals Facebook and Instagram pages aimed at families to help tackle child food poverty so that "No child should ever go to bed hungry"


Allergies:  We know that parents/carers of children with food allergies and intolerances are really careful about which food and ingredients they buy for their families.  Responsibility for making sure appropriate  substitutes in these recipes of known allergens lies with the parent/carer.


Case Study

Early Years Survey Case Study

Early Years Survey Report Cover

Early Years Survey Report

Early Years Survey Infographic

Early Years Survey Infographic

Stakeholder Bulletin

Click on the images to download the bulletins

Bulletin Logo

Early Years and Food Stakeholder Bulletin Summer 2021







Bulletin Logo

Early Years and Food Stakeholder Bulletin Autumn 2020

Useful Links

Breastfeeding & Healthy start

Early Years & School readiness

1001 days: From conception to age 2

Excess weight in children, young people and adults

Healthy Start

Health Start Scheme

Find out more about Healthy Start and Vitamins schemes.  You can also visit the national Healthy Start website 


School meals page


Local Government Association page for COTP

Common Feeding Pitfalls

Child Feeding Guide logo

Our friends at Loughborough University’s School of Sport, Exercise, and Health Sciences have put together some useful advice on how to encourage your child to eat a healthy diet.

For advice and guidance see: 

Common feeding pitfalls | Child Feeding Guide

Child Feeding Guide Pitfalls

Child Poverty

Many people believe there is very little child poverty in the UK today, but this is not the case - currently 18.4% of children in England live in relative poverty – that’s around 30% of children – or in a classroom of 30 that’s 9 children. Lone parent households and children from black and minority ethnic groups are more likely to live in poverty and around 75% of children growing up in poverty live in households where at least one parent is working.

To find out more about how Nottinghamshire County Council are tackling Child Poverty click here

Healthy Eating and Safe Food Preparation for Early Years Practitioners

Foundation Years logoFoundation Years have brought together guidance to support providers and practitioners in meeting the food and drink requirements set out in the EYFS



Visit the Healthy Eating Forum to post or read comments

Find Us on Facebook

Facebook is monitored during office hours Monday - Friday, however if your enquiry is serious, urgent or involves personal details, we advise you to contact the team on 0300 500 80 80 or: Contact us | Nottinghamshire County Council

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