Please find below two full versions of this month's articles featured in our newsletter: read more about healthy eating in nurseries (as featured in The Times), and learn more about Water Saving Week, 12-18 June2010:
NURSERY SCHOOLS ASKED TO PROVIDE SUBSTANTIAL SNACKS FOR GROWING CHILDREN
Toddlers are being fed too much fruit and insufficient carbohydrate to maintain their energy levels, according to a survey of English nursery schools.
Children are also given too much salty food, and the size of portions varies: some are big enough for 10-year-olds and others so small that they lack key nutrients.Parents are also blamed for putting pressure on staff to ban key sources of nourishment such as whole-fat milk and red meat.
The findings are released today by the Local Authority Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS)which asked trading standards officers in 29 councils, including Cumbria,Hampshire and Leicestershire, to check on the lunches and snacks offered by 118nurseries over a five-day period.
The results provide a nationwide snapshot of the food offered to more than 600,000 children who spend up to ten hours a day at nursery.
One surprise is the lack of food in mid-morning and the afternoon. Some children received only half an apple or pear to keep them going until lunch. In the afternoon some were not offered a snack at all, and for those that were, it was often banana pieces or grapes.
There was no evidence of children starving and most nurseries tried to offer a good diet.However, too many meals were based on ham, sausages and other processed meat.Overuse of packet mixes for gravy and other sauces were blamed for the high salt content of meals.
Some nursery schools were also criticised for serving too much bread, and others for excessive use of cheese, which can be high in salt. Too many lunch plates were also short of green vegetables, pulses, eggs, oily fish and red meat, which are good sources of iron, zinc and calcium for a child.
Council chiefs now want guidance for nurseries, childminders and parents on suitable food.
Paul Bettison, LACORS chairman, said: “Most people assume it’s all about beating obesity, but nutrition problems can also be caused by not giving children enough of the types of food they need. For many adults, drinking skimmed milk,eating no red meat and loads of fruit is wonderful, but it’s not what a growing body needs.”
Most nursery schools were independent, he said, and if parents were unhappy, they would move their children.
“Nurseries have a dilemma — do they do what they know is right or do they do what parents think is right? A diet for mum and dad is not the diet for a three-year-old. Parents need to be taught what is best for their children.”
Helen Crawley, of City University, London, is director of the Caroline Walker Trust,which promotes good diet. She said: “This highlights the need for new guidance for under-5s. But it depends on each child, how long they spend in a nursery and what they eat at home. I am part of an advisory group to make recommendations to the Government by the summer.”
The Basingstoke College of Technology nursery was giving children insufficient carbohydrate but has changed its snacks to fruit or carrot sticks plus crackers, breadsticks, toast, oatcakes, scones, flapjacks, cheese cubes, houmus or fromage frais.
Eating well, for the under-5s
Mid morning snack
Milk: Stick with semi-skimmed until five years of age for the energy value. All milk is packed with bone-building minerals such as calcium and phosphorus and provides essential protein for growth and development
Canned peaches with yoghurt: Yoghurt contains calcium and with the fruit provides a filling snack
Sardines on toast, sliced tomatoes: Sardines give body-building protein and iron, as well as omega 3 oils to help neural development. It is a quite rare source of vitamin D needed for the body to absorb calcium. Toast provides energy, fibre and minerals plus B vitamins for healthy nerves and energy release. Tomato adds to the fruit and vegetable total
Stewed apples and custard:Apple is good for soluble fibre which helps keep blood sugar and energy levels steady. Custard, like milk and yoghurt, provides more calcium
Cucumber and carrot sticks with pitta and mint-and-cucumber dip. The slow release carbohydrate from the pitta combined with another vegetable should sustain energy until home time
Sources:Times nutritionist/Caroline Walker Trust
WATER SAVING WEEK 2010
Water Saving Week 2010, which runs from the 12-18th June, is a national campaign which highlights awareness of water waste. Following last year’s highly successful campaign, the theme of this year’s Water Saving Week is: ‘3 reasons to save water = Save Energy, Save Money, Be Green’. Water Saving Week, which is now in its second year, will not only seek to raise awareness of the benefits of water saving amongst businesses and domestic water users, but in schools and colleges too.
Shawn Coles, the founder of the not-for-profit Water Saving Week initiative comments,“Climate change, the greenhouse effect and global warming are now on everyone’s agenda. However water saving has not had the attention it deserves. The objective of Water Saving Week is to help water users to rethink their attitude to water and there is a particular emphasis on teaching young people of the importance of being ‘water wise”.
The Water Saving Week message to teachers and those who manage school estates is two-pronged:
• Saving water saves money and energy: A school that has carried out a water audit and invested in water-efficient technology typically uses 50% less water than a school that has not.
• Add to a child’s education: It is vital that children of all ages are made aware of the scarcity of water resources in the UK, and learn how to be water wise.
Visitors to www.watersavingweek.org.uk can find a host of top water-saving tips for schools – many of which are simple to implement and will deliver instant, tangible savings. For teachers,there is also advice on how to involve children in water saving activities.
“Educating children to think hard about how they use water can have a huge impact on water waste. Children also provide a few hundred extra pairs of eyes for spotting leaks and dripping taps,” comments Shawn Coles.
Teachers and pupils are encouraged to visit the Water Saving Week website where they can make a pledge to save water either as an individual, as a family, or as a school.
For more info: www.watersavingweek.org.uk
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