New comprehensive regulations and standards for child care centres to ensure children get nutritious food were announced today, April 28, by Community Services Minister Denise Peterson-Rafuse. They also give the centres more support and flexibility in preparing healthy meals and snacks.
"Nova Scotia's new food and nutrition regulations for child care centres are part of our plan to make life better for families and improve health care for the next generation of Nova Scotians," said Ms. Peterson-Rafuse.
"I know how hard it can be to put a healthy meal on the table that every child will enjoy. These regulations and the standards they include give more clarity and flexibility as well as tools and guidance to help child care centres give our children the best possible start in life."
The previous regulations required child care centres to have their menus approved by public health nutritionists, and have any subsequent changes approved as well. The new regulations allow centres to develop and change menus based on a clear set of standards for nutrition, and numerous tools and tips.
"We all have a role in helping children grow up as healthy as possible," said Maureen MacDonald, Minister of Health and Wellness. "Thanks to the vision of staff in child care centres, parents, public health nutritionists, and government representatives, these food and nutrition regulations are a step toward increasing healthy eating habits that will have lasting impacts."
The regulations and standards ensure:
— menus are based on food groups identified by Health Canada
— clean drinking water and food safety
— special dietary considerations can be met
— nutrition education is provided
— breast milk is labelled and stored consistently.
"Children benefit when provided with nutritious food, both physically and mentally," said Niki Hoyle, director of the Bible Hill Village Pre-School Society. "When they are shown healthy eating habits from a young age, they learn how to choose good, affordable food as adults. Policies that ensure safe food preparation, service and appropriate menus are so important."
The regulations came into effect on April 1. The standards are effective July 1. The standards were developed by an advisory group co-led by the departments of Community Services and Health and Wellness, with input from organizations and the public. More than 500 participants provided feedback and made recommendations for tools to support implementation.
Child care operators will receive a manual, tools and training starting in June to put the regulations and standards into practice. For example, they will get templates to plan menus, help with food selection and preparation, and guidance for using activities and books to help children develop healthy perceptions about food.
The regulations are available at www.gov.ns.ca/coms/families/childcare .