Children's Food Trust

Children’s Food Trust Award – championing the best nutrition for children

Why is healthy food and drink for children so important?
Children must eat healthily in order to reach their full potential in life. Research shows that when children eat better, they do better, and that’s right through from the earliest days of life, to early years, school days and into adulthood.

What is the Children’s Food Trust Award for?
The Children’s Food Trust Award is offered to individual early years settings and schools that can demonstrate an integrated approach to the provision of healthy food and drink for children.

What defines excellence?
The Children’s Food Trust champions excellence in all aspects of nutrition and healthy eating for children. The Trust was the architect of both the national school food standards and the national Voluntary Food and Drink Guidelines for Early Years Settings in England. These, together with other aspects of food provision, such as the quality of the dining experience and the approach to getting children to actually eat the food, provide the Award’s assessment framework.

How can the Award help you?
The Award is an opportunity to evaluate and enhance your food provision for children. It requires you to attain consistently high standards. The Award will give parents and the children in your care confidence in the quality of your mealtimes. It will distinguish you from other local schools and early years settings. Most importantly, through the provision of healthy food in a quality environment, you can be sure that the children in your care are ready to learn.

How does the assessment work?
The assessment is in two parts: an initial self-assessment free of charge, followed by a face-to-face visit.

The initial self-assessment allows you to decide whether your school or setting is ready for the Award, and will make clear any areas of improvement you need to make. For the self-assessment form, simply register with us.

Once you have decided to proceed and pay, our nutritionists will review your self-assessment form and menus. If we think you will probably pass, we will send an assessor to visit. If, based on the form, we think you have more work to do then we will give you that guidance first, and set a date for the assessor to visit once you have made the required improvements.

Following the assessor’s visit, venues that pass will receive the Award. Any that fail will be provided with clear feedback and, when you provide evidence of improvement, we may then issue the Award with or without a subsequent visit.

What does the visit involve?
A Children’s Food Trust assessor will visit you to observe a mealtime and to talk to you, your catering staff, and the children in your care. They will check that what they see on the day reflects your self-assessment, and they will look at the evidence to support your application.

What do I get when I pass?
You will be presented with a certificate and marketing materials including suggested website text, a local press release and a letter for you to send to parents and to your local authority. You will be entitled to use the Award logo in your own literature and on your website. You will also be acknowledged on the Children’s Food Trust website as an Award holder.

If you wish, we will keep in touch with you throughout the year and update you with relevant children’s food information, news, issues and best practice, and offer useful guidance and resources.

How long does the Award last?
The Award lasts 12 months. Visits by Children’s Food Trust assessors will be every three years. To validate your Award in years two and three, you will asked to complete and submit an updated self-assessment, along with your menus for the Trust’s nutritionists to review. We will also make unannounced visits to 10 per cent of Award recipients each year for quality assurance purposes.

How is your award different to other Awards I could go for?
The Children’s Food Trust Award is for each individual school or early years setting; each establishment is assessed and Awarded on its individual merits.

The Award will always involve a site visit when the award is first given. Based on experience, we believe this is essential for the rigour and credibility of the Award.

The Award focuses solely on good healthy food that children are actively encouraged to eat – no distractions. Parents can therefore be absolutely confident in the food their children are eating at Awarded establishments.

Only schools that show excellence in the nutritional quality of the menu, and success in getting children to eat a balanced healthy meal will qualify. We will not approve schools which pay lip service to the idea of healthy eating, for example by having compliant menus but making little effort to getting the children to eat a balanced meal.