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Government releases new early years menus

By Rachel Lawler

 
The government has released updated example menus for early years settings, which help demonstrate how settings can provide meals and snacks in line with government dietary recommendations for children aged six months up to four years.
 
The new menus have been updated to reflect changes in policy on both intake of free sugars and estimated energy requirements. Settings can choose to introduce the whole menu or select individual recipes they'd like to use.
 
Settings that follow the guidance and use the new menus will be able to demonstrate that they are meeting the Early Years Foundation Stage welfare requirement to provide 'healthy, balanced and nutritious' meals for children.
 
New menus
The menus are designed to provide 90% of the nutrients and energy a child needs each day across three meals and two snacks, with lunch the largest meal of the day.
 
The menus are also said to include different foods, tastes, textures and colours across the course of each day. Advice for dealing with food safety and managing allergies is also included.
 
Alliance comments
Michael Freeston, director of quality improvement at the Alliance, said that the new menus were "welcome additions" to existing advice. He said: "These menus will support settings with either practiced chefs or novice cooks and should help providers put quality nutrition at the heart of what they do, something becoming ever more challenging in the current funding climate."
 
"Nutrition in the early years is so important to ensuring young children go on to live healthy lives and is a vital part of cognitive development. We hope that these menus will become a cornerstone of the daily life of settings across the country, something the Alliance will be working to support member settings achieve."
 
The Alliance was part of the initiative's expert review group for the new menus and is also a founding partner of the Early Years Nutrition Partnership.
 
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