Our new manager wants us to be a centre of excellence. However we have been working toward improving things over time. When I first started at this early childhood centre, Gaynor, our cook was working towards foregrounding healthy eating. It has taken time to establish vegetable gardens, a policy framework, and gain a gold standard Healthy Heart Award (Given by the New Zealand Heart Foundation).

Thanks to Daniel Goleman’s new book on Ecoliteracy for help with reflection and writing. It is still a work in progress so will change over time.

Pathways that began our change process:

  • We used reflection over time to move our practices from piecemeal to systemic
  • We made good progress due to dogged determination; in the beginning the process was driven by Gaynor (our cook) then other staff came on board
  • We feel food literacy equals sustainable educational practices and a healthy environment
  1. Policy Framework to support the initiative: Nutrition policy, Physical Activity Policy, Breast Feeding Policy, Lunch Box Policy, Wellness Policy (TBA)
  2. Teaching and learning: Hands on learning and growing, harvesting, preparing, and eating experiences grow knowledge, skills and attitudes about food, culture, health and the environment. Children assist with meal preparation peeling corn, peeling other vegetables, shelling peas and juicing fruit. Children also scoop Feijoa and Kiwifruit to eat. As well as healthy eating and food preparation skills, we believe this supports fine motor skill development and coordination.
  3. Whānau (family) Involvement: Sharing information through newsletters; inviting parent feedback to our menu changes. Our cook is flexible and able to change the menu when parents make positive suggestions or have special dietary requirements. Parents and family often ask for recipes, recipes from www.vegetables.co.nz  are shared regularly in monthly newsletters. Parents bring excess vegetable and fruit from their gardens. When we have celebrations, parents bring a plate of healthy food to share.
  4. The Dining Experience: A welcoming safe environment that values an atmosphere of healthy eating and positive social interaction
  5. Procurement: Our menus prioritizes fresh, seasonal, sustainably grown food grown from local and regional sources
  6. Facilities: Our view of children as competent is reflected in our use of crockery and drinking glasses. We have a well-equipped kitchen with a Children’s Cooking Box containing peelers, squeezers and stirrers to ensure fresh food can be prepared and reinforce healthy food lessons. Children’s emerging interests can be planned for and supported quickly
  7. Waste Management: A mindfulness around the concept of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We have a worm farm, compost bin and plastic recycling to help children to learn and understand the need to conserve natural resources. Paper recycling is the latest initiative.
  8. Finances: Strategic budgeting and care when choosing resources ensures viability and long-term sustainability of the programme
  9. Professional Development: SPARC, Healthy Heart Workshops, Vice-Chancellors Lecture Series 2011, Basic Hygiene Certificates,
  10. Marketing and Communication: The focus on Healthy Body, Healthy Mind has contributed to the advertised ‘flavour’ of our centre
  11. Centre Philosophy: The centre philosophy requires the addition of explicit reference to our focus on healthy food. The only reference is a focus on the holistic nature of early childhood education.

    Our focus is on providing for and nurturing the whole child, their emotional, social physical and cognitive skills. Our aim is that children grow as competent and confident learners, healthy in mind, body and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging and in the knowledge, they make a valued contribution to society.

  12. Centre Culture:   TBC                 


ü  Changing thinking takes time, patience and a firm view of our centre philosophy

ü  Building long-term sustainability into the culture of the centre