The new menus have been specifically designed to ensure every child at Bright Horizons receives a carefully balanced diet throughout the day and sugar is reduced and kept to a minimum. The menus include a wide variety of starchy foods, fruit and vegetables, dairy foods and non-dairy protein, which provide children with all the nutrients and vitamins they need to grow up healthy and strong – and with lots of energy for a day full of activities! Examples of meals from the new menus will be available on the Bright Horizons website so parents can cook their children’s favourite meals at home too.
The menus, checked against national guidelines by the Trust, will include meals such as Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Couscous and Courgette and Lime Cake with Yoghurt. Wherever possible meals that contain meat or fish will be Red Tractor or MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) approved. The nursery group will also continue to use fruit and vegetables in cakes and cookies, not only as an alternative to sugar but also to add additional nutrients. All meals and desserts included within the menus fall in line with the current sodium and sugar guidelines set for children aged 1- 4 years.
Research highlights the importance of eating habits in the years before school because they influence growth, development and academic achievement in later life. Poor nutrition in early life has also been linked to the risk of developing certain long term conditions, such as type-two diabetes, heart disease and cardiovascular disease, later on in life.
Lydia Green, General Manager at Bright Horizons Family Solutions, said, “At Bright Horizons we believe it’s integral to have our nurseries full of happy, healthy, children bursting with energy and vitality, and we believe that the quality of the food we serve has an essential part to play in that. We are delighted that our carefully planned and freshly prepared menus have been checked by the Children’s Food Trust and that we are the largest Group provider to achieve their menu checked status. Our amazing chefs have really enjoyed helping to create the menus, along with our partners at foodservice management consultancy Watson Lennard and Payne.
We also believe in educating children about food to encourage them to make healthy food choices for themselves. Through initiatives like our Green Gardeners and Creative Cooks, we introduce children to growing, preparing and eating a wide variety of foods, and we encourage parents to get involved in cooking activities at home and in the nursery. Our hope is that all of our children leave us with a lifelong love of nutritious food.”
Bright Horizons will also continue to make mealtimes fun and use this time as an opportunity for the children to learn. All meals within the nurseries are served family style, so that children quickly grasp key skills and food etiquette; setting the table, serving themselves, sharing conversation and clearing away afterwards.