YOUNGSTERS at nurseries in Purbeck and across Dorset will soon be enjoying meats such as venison and pheasant in their weekly meals.
Tops Nurseries – which has venues in Corfe Mullen, Poole, Wareham, Wimborne, Salisbury, Gillingham, Christchurch, Yeovil and more – has signed a new deal with food firm Eat Wild to provide game for children’s meals.
The childcare firm has announced a new Game Menu, which they say will offer meals “designed to captivate young taste buds while providing unmatched nutrition”.
“We are proud to be among the first in our sector to make the move and put wild meat on our menus,” a spokesperson said.
Tops has developed five different wild meat meals which will be incorporated into the nursery’s menu.
Across the company’s 32 sites, the children will be provided with wild meat meals twice within a three-week cycle – 3,000 meals per month.
Pete Ttofis, catering manager at Tops Day Nurseries, said: “Having worked in the hospitality industry for so long, I had always been aware of how delicious wild foods were, especially game.
“The variety and how natural it is always appealed to me as I knew it hadn’t been subjected to courses of intense growth hormones or antibiotic treatment and is left to roam freely eating natural foods within its natural environment, because after all, we are what we eat, right?”
The firm said research showed nutritional benefits of game, including less fat, as much protein and nutrients like vitamin B-12, iron and zinc, as typical household meats like beef, chicken, lamb, and pork.
“By switching to game meat this contributes to the protection of diverse species in their natural environment, aligning with our sustainability mission and ethos,” the spokesperson went on.
Children have been getting to grips with the new menu, with game being incorporated into familiar dishes, such as venison bolognaise and garlic bread appearing on the winter menu.
“We believe that giving wild foods a try and experimenting with our food diversity is something we should be exploring,” Pete added.
“Food should be fun, exciting, new, and delicious.”
Leon Challis-Davies, culinary director at Eat Wild, said: “There are lots of reasons why getting wild and sustainable meat onto school menus is so important, I could talk about them for hours.
“First and foremost, though, it’s so important that we get the younger generation to eat more nutritional and vitamin-rich food to help them develop.
“Wild meat is not only healthier, but it’s also more sustainable than what we consume from our current meat-producing sector.
“It’s much more flavoursome too. For the countryside community in particular, this is a huge win, and we hope to take it to the next level and introduce wild meat into higher education and beyond.”