Food, Agriculture and Animal Health

Nursery School Meals Project

The project looked at the nutritional composition of meals provided at a selection of nursery schools in Hampshire and then followed the initial work up to get confirmation that improvements have been made.


Hampshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service carried out a follow up exercise to the 2009-2010 project looking at the nutritional content of meals provided at 10 nurseries in Hampshire. A link to the summary of the earlier work carried out is given in the Nursery School Meals Document Panel.



During this follow-up of the project, 7 of the original 10 nurseries elected to take part, and the aim of the follow-up work was to demonstrate that through the implementation of some of the dieticians recommendations, the nurseries had improved the nutritional composition of the meals provided to children in their care.

Meals were taken from the 7 nurseries over the course of a week, and were analysed by Hampshire Scientific Services for all the major nutrients, plus iron, calcium and zinc. All the meals provided, except breakfast, were analysed, with the portion size again being that which would be consumed by a typical three year old child. The analytical data was then assessed by a qualified paediatric dietician, who, as before, provided individual reports for each of the nurseries, as well as a general report where all the results for each of the nurseries can be seen.

In addition, the nurseries were asked to complete a questionnaire which provided extra data for the dietician as well as enabling the nurseries to demonstrate where improvements had been made since the initial project work was carried out.

Further details on the methodology of the project, and the guidelines used by the dietician plus a link to the general report, can be found in the Nursery School Meals Document Panel.


Results from the dietician

The general report contains a summary section at the end, but the main points are detailed here:

  • Many of the nurseries provided varied and interesting meals, with an ethos of happy meal times, and several produced all their meals from scratch. Six out of seven had a food nutrition policy, and several reported that their staff received nutrition training

  • All of the nurseries had revised their menus since the last analysis and had made positive improvements, resulting in an increased number of nurseries meeting the food based standards compared to the previous analysis

  • Six out of seven nurseries met the salt target compared to seven out of ten in the previous analysis

  • Six out of the seven nurseries now provided oily fish once per week compared to only two out of ten in the original analysis

  • Five out of the seven nurseries now provided a starchy food at both meals and a snack compared to only two out of ten in the first survey

  • All seven nurseries met the standard for both fruit and vegetable provision whereas only five out of ten in the original analysis met the standard for vegetable provision, with all ten meeting the standard for fruit provision

  • Five out of seven nurseries now provided meat, fish or an alternative non-dairy source of protein at each meal compared to only three out of ten in the previous analysis

  • As in the original analysis all nurseries provided adequate protein and calcium, and none met the iron target, but one met the zinc target compared to none in the previous analysis

  • Only one nursery provided appropriate portion sizes, although another provided slightly under the expected amount. Several had reduced their portion sizes compared to the first analysis but the portions still remained large with the energy, fat and carbohydrate content generally remaining low.  Several of the nurseries stated that not all the food was being eaten, reinforcing the fact that the portions given were too large. One nursery provided adequate fat compared to none meeting this target in the previous analysis

  • One nursery did not provide an afternoon snack and another did not provide tea. This is an improvement compared to the previous analysis when five out of the ten nurseries did not provide an afternoon snack

Overall, it is encouraging to see that all the nurseries have made positive improvements to the menus and food provision since the previous analysis. However there are still several improvements to be made as regards portion size, energy, fat, carbohydrate, iron and zinc content, and suggestions were given by the dietician in her report on how these could be achieved.

If you have any comments or questions regarding the project or the report, please contact Hampshire Trading Standards by email at or by telephone on 01962 833620.