Last reviewed 21 January 2022

The London Early Years Foundation (LEYF) has opened up its chef academy to all nurseries and chefs working with children under aged under seven.

In 2019, the LEYF established the first Early Years Chef Academy to ensure more children get the healthy, nutritious food they need. The academy trains chefs to be experts in child nutrition and to help children, staff and parents build healthy habits for life. Following successful pilots in LEYF early years settings, the academy is now opening enrolment to all nurseries.

The qualification covers portion sizes, weaning, menu planning and managing allergies, while building participants’ confidence to hold food-related activities with children, staff and parents.

The course has been updated following research conducted by Ceeda on behalf of the nursery group, which indicated there is a real need to build the knowledge and skills of chefs and early years staff about children’s nutritional needs and increase support to help parents embed good practice at home.

The move also follows the latest figures from the Government’s children measurement programme which reveal that one in four children in England is now starting school 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 LEYF will run its first external training qualification in March, with the next course due to begin in September.