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Why childcare catering and food quality shouldn't suffer in nurseries

A report from the Early Years Alliance (EYA) has found many nurseries in some of the country’s poorest areas are closing due to shortfall in government funding. The industry report found 17 per cent of childcare providers in the most deprived areas of England ‘anticipate closure in the next 12 months’—an incredibly worrying statistic.   

As a result of this reported lack of funding, other functions of the nursery set up have taken a substantial hit. Of the more than 350 nurseries and childminders surveyed, 43 per cent stated they have had to cut back on vital learning resources, needing to save precious funds wherever possible.

Cuts causing shortfalls for nursery nutrition and impacting children's futures

Food has also seen a reduction in quality as a result of these budget cuts. Of those nurseries surveyed, 19 per cent have reduced the quality of the food served to the children in their care, an alarming statistic for such an integral part of early years development.

The important role of food and nutrition in child development

The role of food in child growth, both physically and mentally, can never be underestimated. It is widely understood that good early years nutrition can play a critical role in the development of a child; aiding cognitive growth, as well as emotional and social advances. With increasing awareness around the importance of nutrition, not just in child development but throughout our lives, we need to ensure nutritious food is always making its way on to our children’s plates.

How frozen meals can deliver delicious economic food and nutrition for childcare settings

Of course, in an ideal world every meal we serve our children would be healthy, tasty and nutritious, but time and often money don’t always allow for this. Food is a very emotive subject, and is incredibly important to a lot of people—especially parents.

The ‘fresh vs. frozen’ debate is a well-worn one, but this is ultimately the choice a nursery owner will have to make when looking at nursery catering options.  A common misconception of frozen food is that it is of lower quality, or less nutritious, in comparison to fresh. However, this view is changing, as consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of frozen meals.

Frozen meals help control stock levels

In a nursery setting, the move to a frozen meals option offers many benefits, many of which are cost saving. By offering frozen meals, a nursery can offer a fixed, but flexible nursery menu that allows nurseries to control stock levels a lot more easily.

By being able to cater for the exact number of children in the nursery on any given day, considering absence, sickness, dietary requirements or general lack of appetite, means much less food is going to waste, as staff can cook exactly what’s needed.

Manage different dietary requirements with frozen food

Having an in-house chef can be fantastic, but comes with its own layers of complexity. With many children having different tastes, dietary requirements and appetites, this can become an added challenge if a chef is off sick, on holiday or leaves unexpectedly. 

On occasion, this may leave a nursery manager or another member of staff in charge of lunch service at short notice. A trip to one of the big supermarkets can feel like a quick fix, but in reality pose a real issue when managing portions. This can become very expensive, as well as opening more complexity around the challenge of allergies and nutritional value. By contrast, flash frozen meals can be prepped by any of your staff quickly to serve delicious meals your little ones will love.

You don't have to cut corners on nutrition to deliver great nursery meals

In a time when every pound counts, streamlining and simplifying your food offering is paramount. Financial challenges are of course a key consideration and nurseries need to know what they can and cannot afford. 

However, when nutrition plays such a vital role in both child development and happiness, it’s so important that food quality doesn’t suffer. apetito offer a wide range of nursery meals, full of flavour, nutrition and variety. Paired with our outstanding nursery meals service and supported by our in-house Dietitian, we’re confident we can make a real difference for your nursery.

Interested in finding out more? Take a look at our sample nursery menu or get in touch.

View a sample nursery menu

About apetito

We are a leading provider of nutritious and award-winning meals, with a strong reputation in the care home and healthcare sectors.

Learn more about apetito

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