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Blue Door Nursery is the first independent nursery in Wales to receive a Silver Catering Mark by the Soil Association, a prestigious award which recognises the provision of healthy, sustainable food.
The Cardiff nursery, which opened in 2006, underwent a series of thorough and rigorous checks in order to be awarded the Catering Mark. They also had to demonstrate they purchase quality ingredients and provide home-cooked meals to all children as part of their daily routine.
Justine Vedmore, nursery founder and director, said: “This is a huge achievement for us and it validates the efforts we have put into providing the children in our care with food of the highest standard.”
The motivation to apply for the prestigious Soil Association award came from Ms Vedmore’s personal experience. She said: “My daughter had attended two private day nurseries, and although overall I felt the care was excellent, I didn't feel that the meals she was offered were always conducive to her cognitive and physical development.
“When I opened Blue Door, I decided that I would make good-quality food one of the pillars of our provision, because to me, showing that we care about the quality of the food is proof that we truly care about the children and their overall development. I wanted the children we cared for to experience a variety of exciting tastes and flavours that were nutritious and appealing.”
The nursery prides itself in reinforcing good table manners and giving children the opportunity to play and eat together. Staff also encourage the children to experience a variety of exciting tastes and flavours that are both nutritious and appealing. Blue Door Nursery serve up to 60 freshly prepared meals each day with macaroni cheese and roast dinner firm favourites amongst the children.
Recent research by Food For Life found that 83 per cent of parents value an independent accreditation of food quality for their early years setting.
The Catering Mark has been cited by the Department for Education as a national framework to support caterers to increase uptake of quality meals. It was introduced to addresses many of the food quality issues that concern parents, ensuring meals are made up of seasonal, traceable, healthier, sustainable and fresh ingredients, free from trans fats and unwanted additives.
Ms Vedmore added: “The Catering Mark standards are a good framework from which to assess how you’re doing and where you want to go. We were pleased that the inspection process was very thorough and rigorous and it gave us the opportunity to fully demonstrate that we do purchase good quality ingredients and that we cook from scratch on a daily basis.”
Senior catering mark manager for the Soil Association, Rich Watts, commented: “Behind a blue door in Wales we were incredibly privileged to work with a nursery so keen to be pioneers in early years food in the country.
“From the moment the Catering Mark team first encountered Justine we were impressed with her passion for providing the children in her care with fresh, sustainable food that’s nutritious too.
“We are delighted to award a Silver Catering Mark and look forward to hearing more in the years to come of how Blue Door is helping to form positive food habits for life.”
Currently over one million Bronze, Silver or Gold Catering Mark meals are served each weekday (April 2016), in education and healthcare settings, workplaces and visitor attractions across the UK, with more than 300 nurseries across the UK serving meals to Catering Mark Standards.
While the entry-level Bronze award is largely concerned with delivering fresh, traceable food that meets nutritional guidelines, the Silver and Gold awards focus more on use of organic produce, ethical and environmentally friendly food, locally sourced ingredients and steps to offer healthier menus.
For more information, visit: https://www.soilassociation.org/