Welcome to our weekly quality improvement support series for 2022.
“It’s our polite nudge in the ribs to help you and your team stay organised and on task.”
This week’s subject is: Weekly Menu
Element 2.1.3: Healthy lifestyle. Healthy eating and physical activity are promoted and appropriate for each child.
- Does your menu meet the nutritional needs of all children?
- Is your menu varied and does it cater to children with allergies and special dietary requirements?
Providing a rich, nutritious menu that is varied and meets the needs of all children requires educators to consistently review and evaluate. This includes weekly checks to ensure that a source of food from each of the five food groups has been offered each day, as well as conducting a periodic menu audit to ensure that it is varied, meets the nutritional and individual needs of children, and reflects the diversity of the families and the local community.
Ensure you obtain feedback from children and families about the menu and food offered plus suggestions of new foods to ensure continual improvement.
Communicating with families:
- Sharing your weekly menu with families online is a great way to provide them with the opportunity to easily provide feedback and suggestions
- Regularly remind your families to inform the Service of any changes to their child’s special dietary requirements, allergies, and intolerances. These should be communicated in a timely manner, to ensure that children’s individual needs are catered to
- Ask for families to share traditional or popular recipes from home, for your Service to add to your menu or use during a cooking experience with children
- Provide families with a copy of your Service’s Nutrition Policy upon enrolment
- When reviewing the Service Nutrition Policy, share with families online & invite families to provide feedback
- Share a “Recipe of the week/month” with families via your newsletter, based on children’s feedback of the most popular recipe/meal
- Families providing food: Provide families with resources and suggestions of healthy lunchbox options (see “Resources for families” below)
Services not providing food:
- Tap water is consistently available throughout the day
- There are systems in place to address inappropriate/unhealthy food/beverage choices provided by parents/carers
- There are systems in place when insufficient food is provided by the parent/carer
- Additional healthy foods are available for children that are still hungry following the food provided by their parent/carer
- Meal and snack times are scheduled for children throughout the day and children are given the opportunity to eat in-between these times, when required
- Parents and carers are consistently encouraged and reminded to provide healthy food/beverages
- Promote and encourage healthy eating by role modeling, wall displays, updates and reminders in your newsletter and providing families with healthy eating materials and resources
Out of School Hours Care Services:
- Provide children with the opportunity to assist Educators to research, survey, plan, create and share the weekly menu
- Include children in preparing and serving meals
- Ensure the menu options are varied from week to week, to maintain children’s interest
- Ensure safe food handling practices are always implemented by children and staff
Resources for families:
Resources for services:
The Childcare Centre Desktop has a range of resources to assist services with nutrition and weekly menu development and review. These include Nutrition and Food Safety Policy, Cultural and Religious Consideration at Mealtimes Guide, Service Menu Table, Menu Planning Checklist, Menu Evaluation Survey, Menu Development and Review Procedure and much more.
Resources, NQS Element, Regulation and System7 links:
Childcare Centre Desktop – Childcare Centre Desktop
National Quality Standard – QA2 / Element 2.1.3
If you have any questions send us a note via the Contact page here!