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Apply for the Healthy Families Catering Award

In Darlington, more than 2 in 10 of children aged 10-11 years are living with obesity (2019/20).

Childhood obesity impacts on children’s ability to thrive, and may cause bone and joint problems, poor immunity, breathing issues and poor mental health.

The government obesity strategy (July 2020) outlines the need for a whole community approach to address the local environment, including the high street and settings where we live, work, go to school and play.

In Darlington, the childhood healthy weight plan upholds a vision to support every child to feel emotionally and physically healthy, by providing opportunities to play and have access to and enjoy healthy foods.

Parents can often feel like they are swimming against a powerful flood of unhealthy foods. A community approach that supports families can work as a lifeboat and help improve children’s health.

Shifting towards making healthy choices easier choices will support our families to flourish.

Children’s food preferences and eating habits are formed early in life with consequences for their health and development outcomes in later life.

It is important that the food offered in early years settings provides appropriate amounts of energy and nutrients and encourages the development of healthy eating habits in young children, both to support appropriate growth and development, and as part of national priorities to reduce childhood obesity and ensure every child has the best start in life.

Guidance for early years settings in England

The World Health Organization (WHO) Report from the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity recommends that formal childcare settings should ensure they only serve healthy foods, drinks and snacks, incorporate food education and understanding into the curriculum, and physical activity into the daily routine. They should also engage the whole community to support the promotion of healthy lifestyles for young children.

The Voluntary Food and Drink Guidelines for Early Years Settings in England have helped set a national benchmark for food provision in childcare.

They provide age-appropriate advice on how to meet the nutritional requirements of young children and how to support settings to meet the Early Years Foundation Stage welfare requirement to provide ‘healthy, balanced and nutritious’ meals, snacks and drinks.

Example menus and guidelines

Data Protection

When you complete your application form you are providing information about your premises, however, some of the information may be classed as personal data, for example, your name, address, and telephone number, if you also reside at that address.

Contact details of your business may be published in Award materials and on the Council’s website. If you do not wish to have your details published you must tell the Officer dealing with your application.

On receipt of your application you will be contacted by an officer from the Environmental Health Section within one working day to arrange a visit to your premises.

Healthy Early Years Catering Award Holders

  • Little Lingfields
  • Darlington College Childcare Centre
  • West Park Out of School Club
  • Magic Out of School Club
  • Kids 1st West Park 
  • Tracey's Tots - Tracey Allison 
  • Magda Gibbs
  • Vick's Childcare - Vicki Ramsay Hammond
  • Next Steps Childcare
  • Little Lodges
  • Shelley Dawn Hunter-Jenkinson

Apply for the award online

Healthy Early Years Catering Award for Settings

This form is for early years settings, for example a private or local authority nursery.

Healthy Early Years Catering Award for Settings

Healthy Early Years Catering Award for Childminders

This form is for childminders.

Healthy Early Years Catering Award for Childminders

Frequently asked questions

This is just one small part of the Darlington Healthy Weight Plan.  The aim is to use community led changes to environments in which children and young people live, play and socialise. To shift towards the healthy choice being the ‘normal’ choice – joined up community-based systems approach in nudging towards more healthy family behaviours.

Aim of the healthy weight plan

To increase the healthy weight of year 6 pupils

How does this relate to Early Years?

In consultations with partners, it is essential that a joined-up approach is structured across Darlington.

Parents and nursery feedback have identified a gap in the knowledge of weaning advice, and post weaning with regards to portion sizes and simple messaging with regards to nutrient requirements and showing what a toddler meal/packed lunch looks like.

The Eat better, start better evidence-based guidelines will underpin the early years nutrition strategy.

The Catering Award is designed to help achieve the aims of the Healthy Weight Plan.

Every setting is different in how it operates, and not every setting will be able to fulfil all the criteria – it will depend on your offer.  That’s fine! In assessing the award, we take into account the individual circumstances of your location and discuss alternative actions with you.

That depends! You may find that you already have a lot of things in place, and it is a matter of tweaking your already good practice – or you may find that some of the changes will take a little longer to embed.

Our pilot settings have taken an average of 3 months to achieve the award, but you may want to work on it over a longer period.  There is no set time in which you must complete your application.

On achieving the award, you will receive a certificate which you can display in your setting.

You will also be added to the Darlington Borough Council website as having achieved award.

The beauty of the award is that it links to everything that you already do with your children.

It’s a great way to bring the new requirement to promote good oral health into your curriculum, and to embed the promotion of good physical health.

Using seasonal produce, sustainability and growing your own food are all rich topics for linking to the educational programmes in all areas of learning.

There are so many activities and experiences which link to healthy eating, all of which all provide excellent opportunities for building children’s knowledge and skills.

Settings who have worked towards the award are enthusiastic about the benefits to children, parents and staff alike. 

  • Working towards the award is a good way to explain changes you are making to sometimes reluctant-to-change parents.
  • It’s a great way to promote oral health and embed this in your practice.
  • It gives a focus to encourage staff to embrace and model behaviours with children.
  • It provides the impetus to make small changes to a healthier lifestyle for everyone linked to your setting, not just the children.
  • It’s a rich area for developing communication and language.
  • It’s easy to link to all areas of your curriculum and to many different topics.
  • It makes you part of the bigger picture of a healthy town and community.
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