March 2023

World 4 Kids / Big Childcare

Early childhood services OSHC Implementing healthy changes Promoting healthy eating
adult showing kids how to garden

Overview

Find out how World 4 Kids/Big Childcare overcame doubts and resistance to revolutionise the foods and drinks they provide and promote to children Victoria-wide.

In 2015, outside school hours care (OSHC) provider, World 4 Kids/Big Childcare embarked on their ‘healthy eating revolution’ across their Victorian services.

Sian Hatzakortzian (Compliance manager) and Rob Bradbury (Chef and Professional Development Coach) engaged the support of the Healthy Eating Advisory Service to get the ball rolling.


Creating healthier menus

The Healthy Eating Advisory Service reviewed 13 site menus using the Food and drink guidelines for OSHC, and provided advice to meet the guidelines, such as:

  • removing discretionary food and drinks, for example:
    • commercially made chicken nuggets, ice cream, pastry, dim sims, deep fried foods, hot dogs, high salt/fat savoury biscuits, chocolate cookies, high sugar/fat cakes, sugary drinks
  • adding vegetables to the afternoon tea menu
  • adding more milk, cheese, yoghurt and alternatives to the menu
  • removing salt from cooking and swapping to reduced salt products where possible.

Policies and processes

To support the healthier menus, World 4 Kids/Big Childcare made a few changes to the way sites prepare foods and drinks.

  • Each site sourced healthier products locally, such as wholemeal bread from local bakeries.
  • New cooking equipment was purchased to make it easier to prepare fresh and nutritious meals.
  • “We now have slow cookers for each service which you can buy cheap and we’ve found they help increase the variety of meals, and save time and budget.”
  • Menus were planned according to what was in season, which also kept costs down, and families were asked to share some of their favourite recipes.

“We’re catering to our children’s right to have healthy food – because we want to, not because we have to.”


Whole-of-organisation approach

World 4 Kids/Big Childcare took a whole-of-organisation approach to provide a healthy eating environment for staff, children and families.

  • An organisation-wide healthy eating policy was introduced which embedded the Food and drink guidelines for OSHC into food provision across the organisation’s menus, cooking activities, vacation days, and staff meetings.
  • Staff have completed the Healthy Eating Advisory Service’s online and face to face training, ‘Healthy eating in outside school hours care’, and they receive healthy cooking tutorials at weekly meetings.
  • Edible gardens are being established at each site to teach the children about sustainability and healthy eating.
  • Staff are kept informed of changes at meetings and letters were sent to inform parents about the changes. Spot checks also occur at all sites to monitor compliance and to support the healthy changes.

The challenges

Rob says there was initially resistance from some staff and parents who felt healthier policy removes children’s freedom to choose. Some people doubted that the healthy changes would be sustained, predicting everything would go back to ‘normal’ after a few months.

But having strong support from the management team, Rob and Sian persisted, determined to provide a healthier future at the organisation. Their efforts to involve staff and parents helped to overcome doubts and demonstrated World 4 Kids/Big Childcare’ s commitment to providing healthier foods and drinks.

“Be ready to still experience resistance every now and then, but don’t let it distract you. Be determined to grow and improve your healthy eating experience.”


Q&A with Rob Bradbury

Chef and Professional Development Coach

What are the children’s favourite foods you’ve introduced?

  • The egg bar: We make it aromatic so the kids can smell the ingredients as they walk into the room, such as omelettes flavoured with herbs and pepper.
  • The taco bar: They’re fresh, easy and delicious. We make the tacos with chicken fillets, fresh tomato, mushrooms, avocado, and the spice sumac.
  • Wholemeal pancakes: The kids love them! We flavour them with vanilla essence and a tiny bit of sugar – one third of the amount we used to use. We don’t top them with butter and jam anymore.
  • Stew: We make a slow cooked vegetarian stew using eggplant and our garden veggies, and at other times we make a slow cooked pork version.
  • Pumpkin soup: I roast an unpeeled pumpkin cut in half in the morning, which brings out the natural flavour. Then you scoop out the soft pumpkin, blend it, and serve. No cream needed!

What are your future plans to maintain a healthy eating environment at your centre?

  • Continue doing spot checks and visits to encourage the educators and provide positive feedback about their work.
  • Continue asking educators for feedback.
  • We’re going to be adding a healthy eating target to the staff KPIs i.e., “How did you embrace change?”
  • Changing the budget to allow for more healthy eating opportunities.
  • Continue to have all staff supporting this new direction.
  • We are also following up with the parents to find out if the kids are taking the healthy eating messages and experiences home.

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