Huddersfield-based Portland House Nursery has the best Early Years menu in the country after it scooped the Food Award at the prestigious Nursery World Awards 2023.

Beating off four other shortlisted nurseries in the national competition, Portland House Nursery demonstrated how they provide a nutritious and balanced menu, how their ingredients are locally sourced and how they educate staff and children about the importance of healthy food choices and the benefits of exploring a variety of different flavours and cultures.

Key to winning the award was showing how they involve children in food preparation during ‘Cooking Club’ where they are able to practice a wide range of cooking skills.

The award, which recognises the nursery’s commitment to food excellence and promoting healthy eating, was presented to staff from the Portland Nurseries Group by comedian Paul Whitehouse at a glittering event at The Brewery in London.

“The nursery demonstrates a strong vision for healthy food culture inspired by research and a passion to provide the best food foundations for young children,” judges said.

“Meals are prepared by the passionate and capable chef who takes great pride in feeding children well, preparing everything from scratch without processed foods.”

Lindley-based Portland House Nursery, which was recently rated Outstanding by Ofsted for a fourth consecutive time, is part of the Portland Nurseries Group which has six settings in Huddersfield and Halifax. Their award-winning approach to healthy meals and food education is prevalent across all its settings, each of which has its own chef cooking fresh meals every day.

As well as providing nutritious meals, Portland Nurseries Group teaches children how to make and use compost to increase environmental awareness and understanding of nature and the lifecycle of food.

Portland House nursery manager Julie Lister said: “We are thrilled to be acknowledged nationally and are delighted to win this award. We have held the Soil Association’s Early Years’ Food for Life Award since 2016 and have recently been awarded the Early Start Nutrition Award for our nutritious and diverse menus.

“Our chef and early years educators work hard involving the children in cooking activities and helping the children to understand the seed to plate process.

“The children love growing their own vegetables and helping to prepare meals and are always enthusiastic to try new recipes, so it is wonderful that the judges have recognised our efforts.”

Portland Nurseries joint managing director Anastasia Murphy said: “Educating children and parents on the topic of healthy eating and nutrition is paramount.

“We put a huge focus on a fresh and healthy, culturally diverse seasonal menu and we ensure children learn why a healthy diet is so important, so that they can make healthy choices now and for the rest of their lives.”