6.5 Food and drink

Policy statement

We regard snack and meal times as an important part of our day. Eating represents a social time for children and adults, and helps children to learn about healthy eating. We promote healthy eating using resources and materials in our long term planning. At snack and meal times, we aim to discuss the nutritious food the children have brought, which meets the children’s individual dietary needs.


We follow there procedures to promote healthy eating in our setting.

Before a child starts to attend the setting, we ask their parents about their dietary needs and preferences, including any allergies.

We record information about each child’s dietary needs in the Registration Form and parents sign the form to signify that it is correct.

We regularly consult with parents to ensure that our records of their children’s dietary needs – including any allergies – are up-to-date. Parents sign the updated record to signify that it is correct.

We display current information about individual children’s dietary needs so that all our staff and volunteers are fully informed about them.

We implement systems to ensure that children receive only food and drink that is consistent with their dietary needs and preferences, as well as their parents’ wishes

We display the snack content for parents to view. In January 2015, parents will be asked to bring their child’s snacks when in the setting.

Through discussion with parents and research reading, we obtain information about the dietary rules of the religious groups to which children and their parents belong, and of vegetarians and vegans, as well as about food allergies. We take account of this information in the provision of food and drinks.

We show sensitivity in providing for children’s diets and allergies. We do not use a child’s diet or allergy as a label for the child, or make a child feel singled out because of her/his diet or allergy.

We organise meal and snack times so that they are social occasions in which children and adults participate.

We use meal and snack times to help children to develop independence through making choices, serving food and drink and feeding themselves.

We provide children with utensils that are appropriate for their ages and stages of development and that take account of the eating practices in their cultures.

We have fresh drinking water constantly available for the children, via the use of their bottle.

In accordance with parents’ wishes, we offer children arriving early in the morning, and/or staying late, an appropriate meal or snack. (CLUBS)

We inform parents who provide food for their children about the storage facilities available in our setting.

We give parents who provide food for their children information about suitable containers for food.

In order to protect children with food allergies, we discourage children from sharing and swapping their food with one another.

Packed lunches

Children are required to bring packed lunches, we:

  • ask parents to contain an ice pack to keep food cool;
  • inform parents of our policy on healthy eating;
  • encourage parents to provide sandwiches with a healthy filling, fruit, and milk based deserts, such as yoghurt or crème fraîche. We discourage sweet drinks and can provide children with water or diluted fresh fruit juice;
  • discourage packed lunch contents that consist largely of crisps, processed foods, sweet drinks and sweet products such as cakes or biscuits. We reserve the right to return this food to the parent as a last resort;
  • provide children bringing packed lunches with trays
  • ensure that adults sit with children to eat their lunch so that the mealtime is a social occasion.


Legal framework


  • Regulation (EC) 852/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Hygiene of Foodstuffs.


Further guidance


  • Safer Food, Better Business (Food Standards Agency 2011)


Other useful publications

  • Nutritional Guidance for the Under Fives (Ed. 2010)
  • The Early Years Essential Cookbook (2009)
  • Healthy and Active Lifestyles for the Early Years (2012)