analysis cost-of-living crisis
Settings step up support for
Vitamin Angels UK extends partnership with NDNA as nurseries increase food donations
One scheme provides supplementary food for low-income families Nurseries providing free hot lunches for two-year-olds and running food banks
With the price of food and energy rising – and inflation at a 40-year high – many early years settings are thinking about how best to support their children, families and staff.
Last week, June O’Sullivan, chief executive of LEYF, called on the Government to invest in nursery food provision to tackle food insecurity.
According to market research company Kantar, food inflation is the highest for 13 years. The Office for National Statistics said inflation as measured by the consumer prices index rose to 9.1 per cent in May, the highest since
Laura Weir, manager of Rosedene nursery, Hardwick
February 1982. To support young children’s nutrition, Vitamin Angels UK has expanded its partnership with the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) to provide free weekly nutrient-dense supplementary food to 12 nurseries.
More than 1,000 children from low-income families now access the scheme to help improve the quality of children’s diets in
London, Sowerby Bridge, Middlesbrough, Manchester, Grimsby, Darlington, Scunthorpe, Wolverhampton and Leominster.
Each week the nurseries are provided with a shopping list from which they can select five servings of fruit, five servings of vegetables, and three servings of protein-rich food items per child per week. Vitamin Angles said the programme costs about £1.75 per week (£0.35 per day). The charity provides funding direct to NDNA, which as the scheme co-ordinator places a nursery’s online shopping order, with the food delivered by the local Tesco.
Michelle Shaw, nursery manager at Central Daycare in Grimsby, said, ‘Vitamin Angels has had an immense impact on the children and families that access our service – because of their initiative, we’ve been able to give some of the most disadvantaged children access to healthy meals and snacks without a financial impact to them. Children and parents are also now more receptive to the new healthy menus – and the youngsters that previously wouldn’t eat fresh fruit and vegetables now do.’
Established in 1994 in the United States, the charity’s goal is to increase access to good
case study: Ford Road Nursery and Pre-school, London Early Years Foundation (LEYF)
The 57-place nursery in Dagenham qualified for support from Vitamin Angels because of the proportion of funded two-year-old places. In addition, the nursery also runs a food bank with its donations, and contributions from some parents and staff. Vitamin Angels food is also used for healthy snacks and main meals.
The nursery buys household, baby items and toiletries that it also offers alongside the food bank.
About 80 per cent of the 130 children registered are either on two-year-old funding or the 15 hours for three- and four-year-olds. Fee-paying and working parents receiving 30-hour childcare are in the minority.
The nursery has 94 per cent occupancy. The demographic has changed in the 12 years that manager Pauline Emmins (pictured) has worked there, when there were more working parents.
‘Barking and Dagenham was a very deprived borough anyway, before Covid hit and before prices increased. Now the general population are struggling even more. It’s lovely for us to feel we can make a difference for so many families,’ she said.
The food bank is run from the community room and there is always a trolley outside the nursery for families to help themselves. The nursery also offers dinner bags, such as spaghetti with tomato sauce with a recipe card for ideas to add extra meat or veg.
‘The food bank is being used more in the last month, more products are being taken. I think more people will use it, especially when energy costs go up in October.
‘With the trolley we try to take the stigma out of it. Parents put food in their bag or buggy before they come in to collect their child.
‘It’s made the ‘It’s made the e child ore dren mo dren ore
‘It’s made the children more conscious of what they’re eating. They’ll take a piece of fruit from the trolley on their way home, so they’re getting additional fruit.
‘We have one particular family on social care. We put food in a bag and put it to one side and hand it over when that parent comes in, because she’s struggling to feed her children. So that helps her to get through the week.
‘I told staff the community room is for everybody. It’s the same rules. If we feel we need to take something, that’s absolutely fine. We have got the flipside as well, with some families and staff contributing if they feel they’re in a position to donate.’
6 | NurseryWorld | July 2022
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