Healthy eating in the National Quality Standard

Early childhood services OSHC

A guide for early childhood education and care services.

Child and parent playing with a toy

What is the purpose of this guide?

The purpose of this guide is to assist education and care services to provide appropriate nutrition to children, promote healthy eating and meet the requirements of element 2.1.3 of the National Quality Standard2 (NQS) and the National Legislation which comprises the Education and Care Services National Law Act 20102 (National Law) and the Education and Care Services National Regulations 20112 (National Regulations).

Healthy eating requirements

Education and care services are assessed and rated against the NQS. The NQS and National Regulations require that all services:

  • 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).

Who is this resource for?

Anyone involved in promoting healthy eating or providing food and beverages to children in care in Australia can use this resource. This includes:

  • directors and coordinators
  • early childhood teachers
  • educators
  • cooks and other staff

Authorised officers can also use this resource to assist them in determining whether education and care services meet the requirements of element 2.1.3 of the NQS and the National Legislation.

How to use this guide

This guide provides guidance on ‘working towards’ and ‘meeting’ ratings for each type of service, including:

  1. long day care services
  2. outside school hours care services
  3. family day care services
  4. kindergarten and other education and care services

Each section provides examples of how providers, services, nominated supervisors and educators might meet their obligations under the NQS and National Legislation.

This guide does not replace the NQS and National Legislation and is provided solely for guidance and assistance. Approved providers and those working directly with children should read and understand the NQS and National Legislation.

Supporting other programs

This guideline supports and will help services who are working towards a range of other programs including;

These programs desire that the service has a ‘meeting’ or ‘exceeding’ rating for standard 2.1.

Group of excited children in a classroom with a teacher

Written and reviewed by dietitians and nutritionists at Nutrition Australia, with support from the Victorian Government.

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