Report launch: Food procurement and provision in early years settings: A Yorkshire case study

Yesterday, Dayna Brackley, Partner at Bremner & Co, presented the findings of a new FixOurFood report on food procurement and provision in early years settings in Yorkshire, which she wrote with Annie Connolly (The Food Foundation), Maria Bryant and Bob Doherty (FixOurFood) and Cressida Pidgeon (Bremner & Co). The report addresses a crucial evidence gap in understanding how and what foods are provided to children aged five years and under in these settings.

You can watch the recording here.

And read the report here.

The early years are fundamental for a child’s physical and psychological development. Yet statistics indicate 22.5% of Yorkshire children are living with overweight or obesity when they start school and 27% have dental decay. Many children consume up to 90% of their daily calories in early years settings, indicating a pressing need to understand what food they’re eating and how. The report calls for a series of policy, advocacy and research recommendations to improve early years food procurement and provision.

Important findings:
– There is a strong desire to provide local, Yorkshire food but stakeholders face significant barriers such as cost, funding and logistics, with procurement rules often prioritising cost over quality.

– A lack of leadership, resources and funding for early years nutrition within local authorities, along with a prioritisation of school food, hampers progress.

– Enablers include dedicated nursery chefs that focus on local, sustainable food, and NGO programs, such as Vitamin Angels, which offer healthy food deliveries to nurseries.

– The early years sector is more fragmented than the school food system, with no Government Buying Standards and less political will, though recent political interest from the Labour Party may signal future changes.

Policy recommendations:
– Elevate early years nutrition to a political priority across government and local authorities.

– Ensure adequate government funding for nutrition in early years settings through a dedicated funding stream.

– Have Ofsted adopt a more regulated approach to monitoring and accountability.

– Provide nutritional training support for early years professionals.

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