Parents Protest Diet Served in Childcare Centre

by Medindia Content Team on  January 14, 2008 at 1:15 PM Diet & Nutrition News
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Parents Protest Diet Served in Childcare Centre
A private childcare centre in Melbourne, Australia has come in for criticism for the skimpy meals it serves children. Angry parents have even withdrawn their children the centre, complaining they are going hungry.

Their protest has sparked calls for an overhaul of food standards.

The corporate centre is believed to spend just $1 a day a child on food.

Community-run centres spend twice or three times that much to feed their children.

Acting Children's Minister Tim Holding for will investigate whether food regulations should be strengthened in light of the claims.

"I am concerned about any allegation that may impact on the health or safety of children attending childcare centres,"  Holding said.

It is believed five families have withdrawn eight children from the eastern suburbs centre.

They refused to pay more than $50 a day for care after the centre stopped serving dessert at lunch and served sandwiches rather than hot meals two days a week.

Balwyn mother Therese Keane said her four-year-old daughter Charlotte was coming home hungry.

"She was really starving and at first we thought it was growing pains, but then we talked to others and realised all the other kids were hungry too," Ms Keane said.

"Once we worked it out we all acted immediately it helped make the decision to move the children."

Other concerns from parents at the centre include a girl, 3, who came home not wearing underpants, and a program run without a qualified kindergarten teacher.

The parents also complained of high turnover of staff, poor security and problems with cleanliness.

A centre spokeswoman said there "would be no reason why children would be returning home hungry and thirsty".

"The centre director has advised that there is always plenty of food for the children, with surplus left over each day," she said.

"Children have access to water throughout the day."

The complaints come as figures show almost one in five centres across the nation fail basic food-handling and hygiene standards.

The Herald Sun newspaper reported that some centres in the state of Victoria spent about $1 a day feeding children little more than basic sandwiches, pasta and biscuits.

Others spent up to $3 a child on fresh fruit and vegetables and homemade meat dishes.

Many served cheap, mass-produced food which was not prepared by cooks or chefs, but by childcare staff with basic food-handling training, the newspaper charged.

There are no federal or state guidelines that specify exactly what children should be eating, how often and how much.

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the Government would introduce tougher standards for childcare with more stringent eating and physical activity guidelines.

Community Childcare executive director Barbara Romeril said parents needed to have genuine input into what their children ate.

Source: Medindia

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