Nurseries feeding children on junk food that costs 25p a meal

'Undercover mums' to pose as prospective parents and report back on catering

An army of undercover mothers is to be recruited to go into nurseries and report back on the food after concerns that some youngsters are being fed on a budget of just 25p per meal.

Mothers posing as prospective parents will check up on the quality of the meals and snacks being served, as part of the Better Nursery Food Now campaign, after concerns that children in nurseries were eating junk food which would be banned in schools.

Campaigners have launched a Facebook campaign to call on the Government to set clear nutritional standards for all nurseries, and for parents to post their experiences of their children's food at nursery. Its petition has already attracted 4,338 signatures. The campaign, run by the Soil Association and the food company Organix, is demanding that the Government set mandatory standards for nursery meals.

A Soil Association spokeswoman said: "There are all these amazing things that have happened for school meals, but nothing for children in nurseries – who are arguably the most vulnerable. We think this is unacceptable, and we want changes to be made urgently."

Organix, which makes organic baby food, has already asked its online community of about 4,000 mothers to undertake undercover inspections of nursery food, and hopes many more will join the campaign. Anna Guyer, a spokeswoman for Organix, said: "We are looking for undercover mums who could go around two or three nurseries and complete a questionnaire about the food. A lot of people who are really interested in organic food at home say that it wasn't something that they even thought about when they chose their child's nursery, and yet it is so very important."

The campaign's 2008 report, Georgie Porgy Pudding and Pie, was the first ever study that looked in detail at the quality of food given to children attending nurseries in the UK. It found that some nurseries spent as little as 25p per meal per child. It also discovered that colourings and additives that are banned in manufactured foods for children were regularly being permitted in nurseries. Foods such as chips, sweets and chocolate were still regularly served in nurseries. A spokeswoman said: "Since the publication of the report, despite widespread support from parents, the Government has failed to take the lead on the crucial issue of nourishing the next generation."

There is currently no compulsory training for nursery staff serving food, no clear nutritional standards and no agency to monitor the quality of food provided. There are approximately 13,600 nurseries in England, with more than 588,000 children attending. On average parents pay £159 per week, or just over £31 a day, for a child under two to go to nursery. The report found that a very small fraction of this cost goes on food: on average just three to six per cent of the cost of sending a child to nursery is spent on food for the child.

Gemma Spratt, a mother who has posted her experiences on the campaign's Facebook page, wrote: "My daughter doesn't go to a nursery and this was one of the reasons why. I was told she would be given cakes and I would have to manage her behaviour if she kicked off because I wouldn't allow her to have cake. This is even more key than school dinners in my eyes as if we can start them off with good eating habits then that's a lifelong love of healthy food."

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said there was already a legal requirement for all childcare providers to offer healthy and nutritious meals. He added: "Ofsted inspects all childcare settings on these legal requirements, and they would take action if they were not being met. We trust their judgement and are encouraged by their own survey, which rated the majority of providers as good or outstanding in relation to providing a healthy diet. They concluded that child carers have embraced the concept of healthy eating and said that the picture looks good for younger children."

Property
pets
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
News
news
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Assistant Manager

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This hotel in Chadderton is a p...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living