93% Of ECE Community Want Lunchbox Rules Paused
A poll across the Early Childhood Education community found 93% in favour of pausing the ‘lunchbox rules’, or the Ministry of Education’s new Food Safety/choking changes to the Licensing Criteria, which came into effect on 25 January.
“The message from the community is loud and clear – this change has caused too much confusion among educators and parents alike. Let’s push pause while we work through the issues,” said Early Childhood Council CEO Peter Reynolds.
Feedback from the early learning community included:
“We feel that this goes against Te Whariki where all children are seen as competent and capable. It's like making every single child under five wear a floatation device even if they can swim and then ripping it from them at age five and saying OK off you go.”
“Children need to be well supervised while eating, but taking away all fruit that requires proper chewing will have a negative impact on their sensory and speech development, especially those children who attend full days as they eat all meals at Preschool.”
Many questions remain unanswered about the lack of guidance on non-food choking hazards and how the guidelines or rules apply to different early learning providers like home based care or Playcentre.
“Members are asking if they have to rip out fruit trees or stop sausage sizzles. Considering the Health and Safety at Work Act already covers many of the issues raised in these new rules, this confusion seems unnecessary. We’re calling on the Minister of Education to push pause on the rollout while we get this right,” said Mr Reynolds.