LEYF launches external training course for early years chefs

Fiona Simpson
Monday, January 17, 2022

The London Early Years Foundation (LEYF) has opened up its chef academy to non-LEYF staff interested in tackling childhood obesity.

The course aims to reduce childhood obesity in under-fives. Picture: Adobe Stock
The course aims to reduce childhood obesity in under-fives. Picture: Adobe Stock

The organisation, which runs 39 nurseries across the capital, will run its first external training qualification from March with a second cohort of chefs set to begin in September.

The move comes after latest figures from the government’s children measurement programme revealed that one in four children in England are now entering reception overweight or obese.

June O’Sullivan, chief executive of LEYF, said: “The best way to embed a healthy food culture for children is to train those who cook. Children’s nutritional needs are quite different to adults and it’s imperative that we get this right with proper professional training for early years chefs. There’s no denying that once a child becomes obese, it is highly likely that they will be obese for the rest of their lives. This is why, as a sector, we need to take a more responsible, supportive and joined up approach.”

The Chef Academy course, which first opened to LEYF staff in 2019, has been updated using key insights from research commissioned by LEYF and conducted by CEEDA, between May and June last year, that looked-at opportunities and barriers for early years settings to improve the diets and eating habits of children, staff, parents and the wider community.

These included a need to build the knowledge and skills of chefs and early years staff around children’s nutritional needs and to increase support for parents to embed good practice for children at home.

Chefs and early years kitchen staff who complete the course are expected to “become experts in child nutrition including everything from portion sizes and weaning, to menu-planning and managing allergies, while building their confidence to conduct exciting food-related activities with children, staff and parents”, according to LEYF.

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