Mealtimes are an educational and social experience, and the more we can involve the children in choices and preparation of food, the more opportunities we are providing for them.
Touching, smelling and tasting the food is an opportunity to develop senses, maths and science, as well as to talk and socialise. Advice to support planning of menus in the UK is available from the Soil Association and from the Food for Life programme but they are heavily meat and dairy based. The more sustainable, and also healthier, option is vegetables and fruits based. It has been recommended that at least once a week we should consume a vegetarian or vegan diet for the day.
The UK still has much to learn from the food pyramid way of eating, and also the Whole Food Vegan Food Pyramid:
Publicise where your food is bought from and why, so you can explain to parents and colleagues why this was the most sustainable choice for the nursery.
Organise trips to local food producers and shops so the children can see where their food comes from. Children do not know where their food comes from unless we educate them first hand, or with photographs, books and media. Undoubtedly, the best learning experience is to see it, touch it and smell it.
You could consider using a national food distributor, but many nurseries may not benefit from these schemes due to their size. Whilst we want to support local farmers, sometimes the benefits of consolidated invoicing, and being able to control purchasing quantities compared to numbers of children/budgets could be easier through a national distributor.
The problem with supermarkets is that they can put local growers and retailers out of business. Although they offer jobs in the supermarket, they take more jobs out of the local economy than they provide; the little shops shut and high streets die.