How does food at nursery work?

The basics:

Many nurseries, children’s centres and childminders provide meals and snacks as part of the cost of childcare. Some will let you choose whether you’d like your child to have meals provided or not.

Others don’t have the staff or facilities to provide food, so they will ask you to provide a packed lunch for your child.

Of course, the length of time your child spends in childcare each day will determine how many snacks or meals they’ll need to eat there.

Just because you’re taking up your child’s entitlement to free childcare doesn’t always mean meals or snacks are included – check with your provider.

When it comes to snack time, some childcare providers have fixed times, when all children stop to snack together. Others have what are known as ‘rolling’ snack time, when children can choose their snack when they feel hungry. Whatever system your childcare provider uses, children’s snacking should be carefully supervised to make sure they’ve eaten.

The formal stuff:

The framework that every childcare provider has to meet requires that the food they offer is ‘healthy, balanced and nutritious’.

The Department for Education encourages all childcare providers to meet national guidelines on healthy food and drink – developed by us here at the Children’s Food Trust.

Look out for our Est Better, Start Better Code of Practice for Food and Drink or our Children’s Food Trust Award – both ways to know your childcare provider’s using national best practice.