Healthy eating in the National Quality Standard
Education and care services must meet the requirements of the National Quality Framework, which includes:
Healthy eating and children’s nutrition is included in the National Quality Standard (revised 2018) in Quality Area 2 - Children’s health and safety, which focuses on supporting and promoting children’s health and safety when they are attending education and care services.
In particular, element 2.1.3 states that:
Healthy eating and physical activity are promoted and appropriate for each child.
The Healthy Eating Advisory Service can assist your service to address the Exceeding themes of the NQS.
Requirements for healthy eating and nutrition in early childhood education and care services
The National Quality Standard and National Regulations require that all services (whether or not they provide food and beverages):
- actively promote healthy eating (element 2.1.3)
- have in place policies and procedures in relation to nutrition, food and beverages, dietary requirements and ensure policies and procedures are followed (regulations 168(2) and 170)
- ensure children have access to safe drinking water at all times (regulation 78)
- ensure children are offered food and beverages appropriate to the needs of each child on a regular basis throughout the day (regulation 78).
In addition, services who provide food and beverages must:
- ensure that food and beverage is nutritious and adequate in quantity (regulation 79)
- ensure that food and beverage is appropriate for each child’s growth and developmental needs and cultural, religious or health requirements (regulation 79)
- have the weekly menu displayed and accessible to parents and carers of children being educated and cared for by the service (regulation 80)
- ensure that the weekly menu accurately describes the food and beverages to be provided by the service each day (regulation 80).
Healthy eating in the National Quality Standard - A guide for early childhood education and care services
We have summarised all of these requirements in a handy guide for early childhood services called Healthy Eating in National Quality Standard (PDF).
We developed the guide with Victorian Department of Education and Training to assist education and care services to provide appropriate nutrition to children, promote healthy eating and meet the element 2.1.3* of the National Quality Standard (revised 2018), and relevant National Regulations.
The guide is divided into four sections, based on what’s required in each type of service:
- long day care services
- outside school hours care services
- family day care services
- kindergarten and other education and care services
It provides examples of how providers, services and supervisors might meet or exceed each area.
Authorised officers can also use the guide to assist them in determining whether education and care services meet the requirements of element 2.1.3* of the National Quality Standard and the National Regulations.
* Please note: The revised National Quality Standard came into effect on 1 February 2018. Before this the relevant element for healthy eating was 2.2.1: “Healthy eating is promoted and food and drinks provided by the service are nutritious and appropriate for each child.”
Healthy eating in the National Quality Standard uses the previous element number and description, however it still contains useful advice on what services can do to meet and exceed the standard for healthy eating.
How we can help
The Healthy Eating Advisory Service provides free information, training and support for Victorian early childhood education and care services to promote healthy eating.
Visit the Getting started page to find out more or visit:
- online training
- menu planning guidelines
- menu assessments
- healthy eating policy
- allergy and intolerance
Links with other programs
Achieving a ‘meeting’ or ‘exceeding’ rating for element 2.1.3 will help education and care services towards achieving the Healthy Eating and Oral Health Benchmarks of the Achievement Program, and the Smiles 4 Miles award.