Congratulations to Welton Free Rangers Forest School Nursery for achieving the Food for Life Early Years Award. This setting has a team of 45 ranging from gardeners and practitioners to admin staff. They offer childcare to 270 children a week, all their food, ordering, budgeting and preparing is done onsite by their full time qualified chef Jayne Adams and her assistant Wendy Young.
Sian Creagh-Osborne, Food for Life Awards Programme Manager, said:
"It’s a real achievement and a sign that Welton Free Rangers Forest School Nursery are putting their children’s health at the centre of what they do, and provide them with the best possible start to their life long relationship with food. We are really really proud of their success.”
We caught up with Charlotte Lucas, Founder and Co-owner of Welton Free Rangers Forest School Nursery, to find out more about their fantastic work.
Why did you decide to do this award and what does achieving it mean to your setting?
It was important to us to choose the Food for Life awards scheme because we believe a positive attitude towards food can and must be fostered at a young age in order to better ensure a healthy lifestyle and healthy choices are followed in later life. We also firmly believe that the food chosen to nourish children can affect their learning and we wanted to enter into the Food for Life Awards scheme to prove to our families just how important these topics are to us. We were happy to learn that we had been successful in the way we cook, what we cook and how we involve the children and families in our care. The award criteria is also useful to reflect on our practice, as there is always room for improvement and scope to learn more. Our regulating body Ofsted focus on the learning needs of children but the food culture in a setting isn’t really mentioned and so by entering into this award we are showing how important we feel food is in a child’s life.
Do you have much outside growing space?
Yes we have 21 acres of pasture land and we’ve just erected a polytunnel and this summer season we have grown many tomatoes and cucumbers and courgettes and the children are all involved with this process.
What advice/tips would you give to another setting wanting to get cooking with children?
If you make food a priority across a setting it ceases to be a basic care need and starts to be a core and social part of the day. We also use what we have around us to involve the children e.g. blackberries for painting with the babies, to baking biscuits with the older children. Cooking outside with children and enabling them to serve themselves is also important, one photo shows children enjoying snack outside and the other shows how we provide bowls from which the children self-serve. Children also get to eat in the kitchen where the dishes are created and so they can chat with the chef about ingredients etc.
What are you most proud of in achieving this award?
We are proud that we might be helping children to start and stay healthy and therefore learn to the best of their abilities.