Checklist: What to include in a nutrition and healthy eating policy

A nutrition and healthy eating policy should explain your early childhood service’s goals and procedures regarding healthy eating, providing a nutritious food service and creating a healthy and positive mealtime environment.

The 'What to include in a nutrition and healthy eating policy' checklist outlines important points to include in your service’s nutrition and healthy eating policy.

Continue reading below, or download the checklist in PDF (329KB) or Word (320KB) format.

 

Items to include in your nutrition and healthy eating policy

Name of the early childhood service
 

Aim/purpose of your policy

This is a statement that confirms your service is committed to providing and/or promoting healthy food in a health promoting environment.

State what this policy will do, i.e. that it will outline guidelines to:

  • provide a nutritious and varied menu for children and infants (if foods and drinks are provided by the service)
  • encourage families to provide healthy food and drink choices (if foods and drinks are provided from home)
  • provide a positive and safe eating environment
  • teach children about food and healthy eating
  • communicate with parents and carers about healthy eating
  • encourage staff to learn about healthy eating and role model healthy eating
  • help your service to strengthen its practice in Quality Area 2 of the National Quality Standard.

For services that are registered with the Achievement Program, state that this policy will help you meet the requirements of the Healthy Eating and Oral Health benchmark.
 

Rationale/background

This is a short statement or paragraph that sets the scene for the policy. It states what influences your policy and your decisions to encourage and/or provide nutritious food and drinks. This statement should outline the rationale behind key areas of the policy.

State that:

  • healthy eating has a major influence on children’s health and wellbeing
  • healthy eating habits are developed in the early years and are carried through to adulthood
  • the National Quality Standard requires centres to provide healthy foods and drinks that meet the requirements for children according to the Australian Dietary Guidelines.
     

Legislation

In this section include references to the following legislation:

Definitions

Include definitions for any common terms you refer to in the policy document. For example:

Healthy eating: Healthy eating is eating a wide variety of foods from the five food groups each day. These are:

  • fruit
  • vegetables and legumes/beans
  • grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain
  • milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives
  • lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans.

Healthy eating also means eating in a way that is socially, culturally and developmentally appropriate, having regular meals and snacks and eating food to satisfy hunger, appetite and energy needs.
Source: Nutrition Australia Vic Division

Nutrition: the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth.
Source: Oxford Dictionaries

‘Discretionary choices’: ‘Discretionary choices’ are foods and drinks that are high in saturated fat, added sugar and salt or a combination of these. They typically have very little nutritional value and are often processed and packaged. Examples of these foods are chocolate, confectionary, jelly, sweet biscuits, high fat savoury biscuits, chips, doughnuts, high sugar/high fat cakes and slices, cream, ice cream, hot chips and other deep fried foods and pastry-based foods (pies, sausage rolls and pasties), fast food and takeaway foods, soft drinks, fruit drinks, cordial, sports drinks, energy drinks and flavoured mineral water.
 

The policy

Discuss how this policy was developed and how it will be implemented. Discuss how the policy will guide your service’s procedures related to food and nutrition.

In this section you can address:

  • the date the policy was developed
  • who was involved in planning the policy (various stakeholders including educators, food service staff and families should be involved in policy development)
  • where the policy will be kept and displayed (e.g. in a manual, displayed on the wall, on the service’s website)
  • how the policy will be circulated and communicated to parents, carers and staff. For example, will the policy be included in the parents newsletter (if so, how often), handed out at enrolment, included in the staff orientation manual and signed by all new staff
  • who will need to refer to the policy and when
  • when and how the policy will be reviewed, and who will be involved in the review.
     

Providing food and drinks or food and drinks brought from home

In this section, describe how you will make sure that children are provided with food and drinks that are safe, nutritious, varied and culturally diverse.

If food is provided by the service:
  • outline how the foods and drinks supplied will meet the nutrition needs of children according to the Australian Dietary Guidelines and the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating
  • indicate which menu planning guidelines have been used to plan your menu such as the Healthy Eating Advisory Service’s Menu planning guidelines for long day care, Food and drink guidelines for out of school hours care or Menu planning checklist for family day care
  • state that morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea will provide 50% of daily nutrition requirements, for foods provided in long day care
  • specify who is responsible for planning the menu and how often the menu will be reviewed
  • indicate that families will have the opportunity to provide input into the menu and that the food preferences of children will be considered during menu planning}
  • state that the menu has been or will be assessed by the Healthy Eating Advisory Service
  • describe how you will cater for specific cultural requirements, such as children who are vegetarian or require Kosher or Halal foods}
  • describe how the menu provides children with the opportunity to experience a variety of foods with a range of flavours, colours, textures and aromas, such as foods from different cultures
  • describe how the food provided is developmentally appropriate for children and encourages independent eating
  • describe how you will make sure that safe water is available to drink at all times
  • state that the service does not offer ‘discretionary’ foods or drinks on the menu.
     
If food is brought from home:
  • include guidelines regarding suitable and unsuitable foods and drinks for parents and carers to provide for children
  • outline how your service will encourage parents to provide healthy foods and drinks in line with the service’s nutrition and healthy eating policy
  • state that ‘discretionary choices’ should not be brought from home
  • outline your service’s strategy for dealing with unsuitable foods and drinks brought from home.
     

Infant feeding

(If this is covered in another policy please cross reference to the appropriate policy)

In this section, describe how your service will feed children aged 0–12 months.

  • State that your service will support breastfeeding mothers to continue breastfeeding and outline how this will be done.
  • Document which guidelines and resources will be used to ensure that age appropriate foods and textures are provided for infants.
  • Describe how you will communicate information to parents on feeding and solids progression.
  • Specify that breast milk or formula should be provided from home.
  • Describe your service’s procedure for storing, thawing and warming expressed breast milk.
  • Describe your service’s procedure for handling and preparing infant formula.
     

Special dietary needs (including food allergies and intolerance)

(If this is covered in another policy please cross reference to the appropriate policy)

In this section, describe the steps that will be taken by the service to support children with special dietary needs.

  • State that for children with individual medical dietary needs or allergies, the parent or carer will be asked to provide a health care plan written by a relevant health professional (e.g. doctor, specialist, dietitian). The health care plan should include information about relevant medical conditions, emergency procedures and any nutrition intervention required. Parents of children with allergies should provide an allergy action plan from a relevant health professional.
  • State that families will be informed prior to enrollment about what dietary support can be provided by the service.
  • Indicate that the ability of the service to cater for special dietary needs is at the service’s discretion. In some circumstances, parents and carers may be asked to provide some or all of the food and drinks required for their child. Negotiate with parents what food they are prepared to provide for children on special diets and what foods the service will provide.
  • Document how you will prevent at-risk children from accessing foods and drinks that are not allowed on special diets.
  • Describe how staff members will be kept informed of procedures for dealing with allergies, specifically emergency procedures for allergic reactions.
  • Outline how information regarding allergies will be communicated to parents and families.
  • Indicate where parents and staff can be directed to obtain more information about managing food allergies and intolerances.
  • State that special diets for cultural or religious reasons will be discussed and negotiated with parents and carers. Appropriate foods and drinks will be provided by the service to the best of the service’s ability.
     

Food safety

(If this is covered in another policy please cross reference to the appropriate policy)

In this section outline how you will make sure that your service provides safe and hygienic food and drinks.

  • Outline both formal and informal food safety training that will be undertaken by staff.
  • Describe how your service will ensure that safe foods and drinks are provided (including procedures for food storage, handling, preparation and disposal).
     

Mealtime and the eating environment

In this section outline how your service will provide a health promoting, positive, safe and social eating environment.

  • Include how staff and carers will role model healthy eating behaviours.
    ​For example, staff:
    • sit with children during meal time and enjoy the same healthy food and drinks
    • provide positive encouragement to children eating healthy food and drinks
    • promote positive discussion about the foods and drinks being served
    • promote a positive, relaxed, social eating environment with children
    • are encouraged to bring food and drinks from home in line with the service’s staff health and wellbeing policy
    • avoid discussions about dieting, fad diets and body image.
  • Describe the precautions in place to minimise the risk of choking, such as children being seated and supervised at mealtimes.
  • State that food will not be used as a punishment, reward or incentive.
  • Describe the procedures your service will use for fussy eaters or natural appetite fluctuation.
  • Describe how you will celebrate special occasions such as birthdays and how you will communicate information to parents and families about what they can provide.
  • Describe how cultural food events and practices will be celebrated.
     

Learning about food and nutrition

In this section discuss how your service will provide opportunities for children to learn about food and healthy eating as recommended in the National Quality Standard, Belonging, Being and Becoming - The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia and the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework.

  • State that the learning program will include food awareness activities, practical food preparation experiences and planned and spontaneous discussions about food.
  • State that mealtimes are seen as an opportunity for social learning and for teaching children about appropriate mealtime behaviours.
  • Outline how staff will access resources, tools and professional learning experiences to increase their knowledge and capacity to promote healthy eating.
     

Engaging and communicating with staff and educators

In this section discuss:

  • that staff and educators are supported by having healthy food and drink options in the staff room, for staff meetings and for professional learning. Refer to your staff health and wellbeing policy
  • that educators recognise they are role models and are encouraged to bring foods and drinks that are in line with the service’s nutrition and healthy eating policy
  • how staff are provided with opportunities to update their training on healthy eating and develop the skills required to promote the service’s nutrition and healthy eating policy.
     

Engaging and communicating with parents and families

In this section discuss how you will regularly communicate with parents and carers about children’s dietary needs and the service’s nutrition and healthy eating policy.

  • State how the service’s menu, recipes and nutrition and healthy eating policy will be made available to parents and carers.
  • Outline how your service will communicate the importance of healthy eating to parents and carers.
  • Indicate that parents will be advised of children’s food and drink intake, and will be advised if their child is not eating well, or of any other concerns.
  • Outline how parents and carers will be consulted about children’s special dietary needs.
     

Community partnerships

  • Outline any links or partnerships your service has with local health professionals and community organisations that increase the capacity to promote healthy eating.
  • State that staff are encouraged to work with local health professionals and services to increase their capacity to promote healthy eating.
     

Other procedures

  • Discuss guidelines about foods and drinks for fundraising and theme days. Fundraising ideas should reflect the nutrition and healthy eating policy and promote healthy lifestyle messages.
  • Discuss how food and drinks will be made available during an emergency when kitchen facilities may not be available or there is an evacuation.
     

Related policies and resources

List policies you have cross referenced or are relevant to this nutrition and healthy eating policy, such as:

  • Anaphylaxis policy
  • Infant feeding policy
  • Food allergies policy
  • Oral health policy
  • Food safety policy
  • Behaviour guidance policy
  • Birthday/celebrations policy
  • Fundraising policy
  • Staff health and wellbeing policy
     

Contact details for resources and support

List details of resources/support that are helpful and relevant to this policy.

The following menu planning resources are available on this websitre:

A range of resources regarding food allergy and intolerances is available here.
 

Attachment/Appendix

Appendix 1 Australian Dietary Guidelines, National Health and Medical Research Council, 2013, http://www.eatforhealth.gov.au.
 

Monitoring and review

State how this healthy eating policy will be monitored by educators, staff, families and management and how it will be reviewed as part of a policy review schedule.

Endorsed on:_____________________

Next review date:__________________