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Marvellous Mealtimes is the Council’s new holistic meal and snack time approach for ‘wee people’ developed by two early learning graduates, Gemma Paterson and Ashley Cupples.

It’s been piloted in both Bowhouse and Nethermains nurseries and will gradually be rolled out to all 1140 centres over the coming year.

Lisa McCabe, Education Team Manager said:

“In the past we have only had to provide a snack for children but as a result of the expansion to 1140 hours all of our three and four year olds are entitled to a full lunch.

“This is a completely new journey for us so we started off collecting data about children’s eating patterns and wellbeing. Taking our early years pupils to the school dining halls seemed to be the obvious option but our research highlighted there were other possibilities for us to consider.”

In order to develop Marvellous Mealtimes the following developments have taken place:

  • In September 2018, children stayed within the ELC environment for lunch
  • Children ate lunch with a smaller group of friends with three lunch periods over 2 hours
  • Homelike environments were made with real crockery, real cutlery, soft lighting, wall paper, family photographs, flowers and table cloths
  • Children self-served, choosing food they would like to eat

Since these changes were made, 80% of children ate most or all of their lunch and in January 2019 the free flow 2 hour lunch routine was rolled out in both establishments. Wastage also decreased to 10% from an average of 25%.

Lisa added:

“The impact this new approach has had on children’s learning and development has been tremendous with children confidently using cutlery and pouring water or milk.”

A Marvellous Mealtimes book has been developed and will be used by 1140 nurseries across the Falkirk Council area.

The Council’s innovative approach to meal provision has also been recognised by the Scottish Government recently who has promoted Marvellous Mealtimes across Scotland.