Taking a stand on childcare health standards ahead of National Obesity Summit
Ahead of the National Obesity Summit, scheduled to take place tomorrow, children’s health advocate and Healthy Australia CEO Ruby O’Rourke is calling for greater attention to be paid to nutrition provision in early childhood education and care (ECEC) services.
Ms O’Rourke says a long-term solution to Australia’s growing obesity epidemic can be achieved “by instilling healthy eating habits and emphasising proper nutrition in Australia’s 28,000 child care services who feed 800,000 children breakfast, lunch and dinner daily”.
“Just as early years learning is rightfully recognised as the foundation for better future education outcomes, so should early years nutrition be the foundation for better health outcomes,” Ms O’Rourke said.
Claiming that Australia is “stuck in an obesity trap”, especially in relation to young children, Ms O’Rourke seeks an urgent intervention from both state and federal governments, to address the following points:
- Research showing that 95 out of every 100 childcare services providing meals in this country are not feeding children appropriately or do not comply with the Australian Dietary Guidelines.
- Children’s services trying to devise and deliver healthy meals on tight budgets often as little as 33 cents per child, per day.
- Bureaucratic blockages denying better in-care nutritional standards and the measurement of policy improvements because “standards within childcare services are being met”, when they are clearly not.
- Children’s services not required by the Department of Education to have qualified cooks, or food business licences despite the amount of food made on premises to paying parents.
Healthy Australia is one of the many organisations who have collaborated to produce an interactive menu planning tool, and resource portal, to address the challenges of improving the nutritional quality of meals served in ECEC services.
A second iteration of the menu planning tool, feedAustralia Families will be made available in March 2019, designed to support families to better nourish their children.
For more information, visit the feedAustralia website.