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Nursery food survey: do you / have you had a child in a nursery? You could win £250 of store vouchers for telling us about the food.

53 replies

GeraldineMumsnet · 04/02/2010 12:28

The Soil Association and Organix have asked Mumsnet to find out what you think of food in nurseries. The nurseries we are referring to would include day care, fee paying, private nurseries, or government funded day care - rather than a nursery school attached to a primary school. If in doubt please complete the survey if your child is/was at a nursery and has/had meals there.

This survey is open to any parent in the UK who either currently has a child at nursery or who has had a child at nursery within the last 2 - 3 years.

The Soil Association and Organix have recently launched a campaign called Better Nursery Food Now calling for government action on nursery food, and clear rules for the quality of food served in nurseries.

After extensive research, they are concerned that there are no nutritional standards for nursery food, which has resulted in some nurseries serving poor quality food ? including junk food and food with additives that affect behaviour.

What do you think? What is your / your child's experience of nursery food? Is the food at your nursery good? Or do you have concerns about what is being fed to your child in your absence?

Everyone who completes the survey will be entered into a prize draw to win £250 of vouchers for store of your choice.

Thanks and good luck,


OP posts:
theyoungvisiter · 06/02/2010 20:31

sorry - in my last post should have read "support the soil association".

Will stop banging on about this now - but it really annoys me when marketing exercises are dressed up as "research". Even when I support the people doing the marketing.

Horton · 06/02/2010 20:56

DD's nursery food is fantastic - what I like best about it is that they don't only go for the very low fat options, it's just proper food nicely cooked, they do stuff like poached egg sarnies for breakfast, bacon rolls on occasion, the kids get a proper filling pudding such as stewed fruit topped with sponge and custard instead of the inevitable low fat yoghurt etc. DD comes home raving about the food. Every meal is prepared freshly and the menus sound absolutely great. I haven't tasted the lunches but the breakfast stuff is top quality and I wish someone was cooking it for me! They don't do exclusively organic food but they do have their ideas right, IMO, in that it's often seasonal food, brown bread rather than white, juice and milk available as well as just water, not crazily low fat etc.

Whippet · 06/02/2010 21:26

Done, but I agree with others - this is a really badly designed survey survey guaranteed to give them the answers they 'want'

Why not a category for Mostly OK/ Satisfactory?

Very misleading descriptions IMHO.

notcitrus · 06/02/2010 21:31

agreed about the skew to get a certain response - I put in that one comment box that I'd like more local and seasonal stuff but couldn't give a toss about organic - which I've also told the manager as we had a chat about her plans for changes and growing food etc before ds started.

They do sensible decent nosh - lots of fruit and veg included, brown bread etc, but also remember that small people need their fat and protein. And amazingly peer pressure works and the kids actually eat it all - I spent months asking them what they did with their fruit to get ds to eat it (his diary reported 'ate all' next to all of it) and they said "er...put it in front of him? No, it's not pureed or chopped or anything, it's just like pieces of fruit..."

gaelicsheep · 06/02/2010 22:09

I rated the food at DS's nursery good because I think it's good - not excellent, but good. I couldn't give a toss about their definition, I used my definition.

NotAnOtter · 07/02/2010 00:15

done- but it really need an OK or Mediocre option

I put 'good' a couple of times when i really meant 'hmmm okish' but did not mean 'poor' which was nearest alternative


thehairybabysmum · 08/02/2010 13:38

Done but gree that this is a poorly designed 'marketing' questionnaire.

Also how ironic that it is sponsored by Organix....purveyors of 'the finest quality (but organic) junk food!!' Their brand really annoys me when they claim things to be sugar free yet they are full of concentrated fruit juice which is SUGAR!! Also the crispy snack things are still CRISPS...just posh ones!!

I doubt ill be winning those vouchers now

choppychopster · 08/02/2010 13:43


gnatbite · 08/02/2010 17:21


midnightexpress · 08/02/2010 18:41

Done. Agree that there should be a 'mediocre' option for some of the questions there.

gigglewitch · 08/02/2010 20:55


andirobobo · 09/02/2010 13:03

Agree with all said - was an average category missing from the survey

muddleduck · 11/02/2010 11:58

Agree with the other posters that this survey was a bit odd - idd assumed that all nurserys provide food, which is simply not the case. DS2's only provides snacks.

HelenMumsnet · 11/02/2010 14:47


The people at Organix and the Soil Association have been reading your comments and have asked us to post this from Pamela Brunton, Nursery Food Campaign Manager for the Soil Association...

"Thanks all for your comments - they're really valuable to us, and it's great to see so many joining in such an important debate.

"We worded a definition for each of the terms 'excellent' 'good' and 'poor' because we all have such different opinions on what each of these mean, and, when we use the results of the survey, we want to know that we can accurately represent your thoughts.

"As we're trying to push for the best food we can get for children in daycare, though, it seemed reasonable to have a fairly decent standard at 'good'.

"I do agree, though, with BorntoFolk and Cyteen - question 3 needs a level between 'good' and 'poor'; something like 'okay' or 'acceptable'.

"We'll bear this in mind when we are considering your responses, and will always show the definitions we used.

"In terms of the word "excellent" as raised on this thread by theyoungvisiter, excellent food for us consists of a variety of freshly prepared food, with lots of fruit and vegetables, and where possible organic, seasonal and locally sourced.

"Organic food (grown without the use of chemicals and pesticides, and working with nature rather than against it) is better for your health, for the farmers and growers, for the environment, and for the animals we grow to eat. It also creates less of the harmful 'greenhouse' gases that are warming
up the planet, so can help combat climate change - which impacts our children's future too.

"Any nursery that chooses - even occasionally - to serve food that is better for kids' health and their future we think 'excels'!

"We are trying to gather your views with the intention of taking them to the government and pushing for change. So there is an end goal in mind but, as I mentioned, we also genuinely want to hear your views and create debate.

"Thank you all so much for your help in securing better food for children in all nurseries.

"If you are interested in helping us and if you haven't done so, you can also sign our petition at"

DorotheaPlenticlew · 11/02/2010 19:52


AnnMumsnet · 14/02/2010 21:02


AnnMumsnet · 16/02/2010 08:39


AnnMumsnet · 16/02/2010 16:00


Meglet · 16/02/2010 16:07


AnnMumsnet · 17/02/2010 15:33


teamcullen · 17/02/2010 18:56

My DS was at nursery 4 years ago now so I cant complete the survey. But as the publishers of the survey are reading this thread I thought Id leave a few comments.

I am a cook in a non profit nursery in a very deprived part of the country.

Our children aged between 6mths and 5years are from various backgrounds. Working parents, parents who are students, and children who have an assisted place for various social reasons. A high propotion of our children's parents speak english as a second language.

I do not have a qualification in early years nutrition, however I am very interested and strive to make the best meals possible within our budget.

I follow guidelines set out by the food standards agency when I am planning meals.

We ensure that meals are nutritous and each daily meal plan contains, protien, carbs, vegetables/fruit and dairy products. Dairy products are full fat.

As advised by the FSA, wholemeal is not served to children under 18 months apart from some brown bread.

We serve 2 portions of oily fish per week, last week I made mackerel fish fingers and tuna wraps. However all oily fish is from tins, we dont serve fresh fish but do use frozen white fish.

All our meat and fresh produce is from the supermarket. It is not organic. However all meals such as cottage/fishermans pie, soups and stews, pies and casseroles fishcakes etc are made from scratch and therefore contain substancially less salt, sugar and additives.

We do not serve puddings or cakes unless it is for a special occation.

We also do weekly food activities, where the children make their own healthy snack or explore foods through taste and play activities.

I do not think that my menu does'nt have room for improvment, however the children I cook for have a well balanced diet and the majority leave nursery with a good attitude to food.

I strongly believe that serving healthy meals and establishing a good relationship with food is very important at early years settings, however I do not believe that serving organic produce is the most important factor within achieving this goal.

HellBent · 17/02/2010 19:50


trixymalixy · 18/02/2010 12:41


LadyPops · 18/02/2010 13:35

Yeah, slightly odd questionnaire.

Our nursery is part good, part bad. Lunch tends to be something hearty and homemade - fish pie/spag bol/stew etc but they serve some deserts and far too much cake, yesterday they had jam tarts after lunch and chocolate muffins after tea.

They also serve jaffa cakes and rusks as 'desert'. I repeatedly ask for my ds to be given fruit and yoghurt at one meal and a sweet desert for one but I'm usually ignored as cake pops up in his little diary twice a day most days. I was really pressured into allowing him to have cake at all - i kept being told that little children 'need sugar'. How do you even come back to that kind of comment without sounding totally patronising?

They seem to know very little about basic nutrition - I questioned fish fingers and baked beans being served regurlalry (3 times in one week) when DS was under one (along with toast/cheese sandwiches through the day) because of the salt content and they just didn't get it. (They blended it for the really little ones!). I asked if tuna could be served instead of cheese occasionally and was told they couldn't because there is too much vitamin D in it... Other than the food, the nursery is great so I just make an extra effort to provide healthy food at home and we very rarely have cake/sweet things to try and balance it. It annoys me that they don't respect my wishes though and it did initially shock me how bad their understanding was. I'm resigned to it now.

BuzzingNoise · 18/02/2010 19:40


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