Learning Good Food at an Early Age

By: Patricia Sauer

At Cavendish Lodge Nursery, we've been busy helping Streatham's smallest residents know about good food. Recently we took a close look at meals served, the ingredients and activities around food and found room for improvement. All the food was, and still is, freshly cooked on site by our kitchen staff but there was plenty of waste at the end of the day. Was this really the right way to fuel young lives?
 
We recruited a new head chef, Tepi Balla, from the restaurant world rather than institutional catering. He came with lots of ideas and expertise; for example, rather than buying weekly from the big supermarkets, under Tepi’s regime, fresh and traceable meat was bought from a nearby butcher, sustainable fish from a fishmonger and fruit and veg delivered almost daily from Covent Garden.  Milk was changed to organic, staple grocery items still came from a wholesaler or the supermarket.
 
The children are fed often and lots in the nursery; breakfast at 8.00am until high tea at 4.00pm, without a budget increase for the changes. They eat well and enjoy mealtimes and each age group takes part in cooking activities weekly. They grow herbs and veg in the gardens and the nursery has recently taken a small plot in the Streatham Community Garden at the Rookery. The older children go there in the summer to tend their plants.
 
The food now served is quite ambitious, with lots of flavour and different tastes. The menus and nutritional approach have been checked by the Children’s Food Trust. The menus follow a four week rotation and are changed twice a year. There have been lengthy inspections, but we know that we serve high quality and balanced meals that satisfy CFT’s strict guidelines.

We're delighted the hard work resulted in Cavendish Lodge winning the CFT excellence award in Autumn 2015, the nursery equivalent of a Michelin Start, and we're the first nursery in London to do so