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. 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
- 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
- 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??
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com
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:
Click to open these documents:
Food Standards Agency- Early years choking hazards food safety advice
Healthy Start is a national scheme providing vitamins and food vouchers 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. They are sent a voucher every eight weeks which can be exchanged for either Healthy Start women’s vitamin tablets or Healthy Start children’s drops.
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.
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 Food Vouchers:
People who are eligible receive food vouchers worth £4.25 per week; £8.50 when their child is under a year old.
⭐The scheme is changing from paper vouchers to a chip and pin card that you can use in any shops selling Healthy Start foods.⭐ 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 vouchers by vsiting:
Lots of shops accept Healthy Start vouchers, including:
- corner shops
- food co-ops
- market stalls
- milk floats or vans
You can ask a retailer if they accept Healthy Start pre-paid card.
How to Apply:
Go to the website www.healthystart.nhs.uk/ for details on eligibility and to download the appliation form. A health professional doesn't need to sign the form, it just needs to be sent by post to a FREEPOST address. If anyone doesn't have access to a printer, then the local Children’s Centre Services team may be able to help, or the nearest local library can provide access to a public library computer.
You can use this quick and easy Healthy Start Eligibility Calculator to find out if someone can receive Healthy Start vouchers
Healthy and Affordable Meals
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"
Breastfeeding & Healthy start
Early Years & School readiness
1001 days: From conception to age 2
Excess weight in children, young people and adults https://www.nottinghamshireinsight.org.uk/research-areas/jsna/cross-cutting-themes/excess-weight-in-children-young-people-and-adults-2016/
School meals page
Local Government Association page for COTP
Common Feeding Pitfalls
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:
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 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