I had a really interesting meeting at our Faringdon nursery last week with a really impressive young student from Oxford Brookes, Stuart. Stuart has spent the last few months working through a project for us, looking at the menu cycle that we were using at Faringdon, then reviewing where we were lacking in the correct nutrients to provide a balanced diet. More importantly, he also looked at the areas where we were offering too much of substances which are not recommended.
The biggest challenge we are facing is balancing a menu that is sufficiently high in calories for young children, but still low in salt and sugar. For example, at tea time, the children really love pitta bread, sandwiches, wraps and rolls, all with different fillings and accompanied by fruit and vegetables. However, one of the worst offenders for salt consumption is bread products, so we need to decide whether the calories are more important, or keeping inside the recommended levels for salt.
We have already trialled a new menu at Faringdon this summer, based on the recommendations of a group of 3 students who are also at Oxford Brookes, so I plan to try Stuart’s proposed menu out at one of our other settings – I have yet to decide which cook to rope in to my plan! Whatever the outcome, we will tweak our menus across the group and hope to have an ‘ideal menu’ within the next couple of months. However, it is important to keep some flexibility and allow the cooks to use their own creative talents, just within the correct nutritional guidelines.
Generally parents seem very happy with the meals we are serving, but do let us know if you have any comment or ways in which you would like to see us change.