As I mentioned here my cousin won tickets to a local children’s play centre called The Sunflower Centre in Hyde Let me start by saying the centre and it’s set up is pretty impressive. It has something called Sunflower Street which is an area where there are all different types of role play activities and it is a really good set up.
There is a dressing up area where the children can dress of an astronaut, a fireman, a nurse, a doctor etc. There is a house area with an impressive toy kitchen, a bedroom area to put dolls and teddies to bed, an iron, hoovers and sweeping brushes.
|Image taken from Suflower Centre website|
There is a pretend post office complete with postman outfits, stamping machines and parcels and letters to deliver to the other play areas, there is a vets and a doctors.
There is even sunflower store, stocked with groceries and a till and chip and pin machine.
I have to say it’s all very well equipped and very impressive. The outdoor area boasts a car track complete with cars and a couple of petrol pumps.
It is completely child centred, and there are staff on hand to play and interact with the children. Toddlers love it and it is brilliant.
So, with such a child centred approach I was really shocked to see the food on offer today.
I’m not massively precious about the things that Daniel eats. I recognise that he will have sugary foods etc, but I try to limit those to treats, such as when at grandparents house etc. He rarely has chocolate and biscuits and only drinks milk and water.
I therefore find it hugely irritating when I go to a children’s event or a play centre and the food on offer is basically crap. I don’t (often!) serve crap food at home, and I am certainly not about to buy it for my children whilst we are out.
It wasn’t a normal day to be fair, it was the end of summer party and there were a couple of stands there from local crafts people selling pictures, cards, jewellery etc. One of the stands, set right next to the door so you would pass when you went in and out was selling sweets. Lovely sugar filled sweets. It seemed really out of place to be honest, and I think an error of judgement from the team organising the stalls to have something like that in a children’s centre.
They were also selling food. Burgers, fish finger sandwiches, hotdogs, ‘cheese’ sandwiches and crisps.
Daniel is a bit funny with meat. I myself am vegetarian so I don’t know if it is something to do with that as he was developing or it’s just not his thing. However he is offered meat with most meals as Damian eats it, and I can’t recall the last time he ate it (other than when in a pork pie) so there was no point in buying him a hotdog or burger. I had hoped I might be able to get him a banana or an orange or something similar to tide him over to when I got home and I could do something for him, but there wasn’t any fruit on offer (which is shameful really at a children’s play centre).
I therefore opted to get him a cheese sandwich. The cheese sandwich was a cheese slice on bread. Don’t get me wrong, I like cheese slices. I know the cheese content is probably minimal and my Grandad used to call it plastic cheese but I do like them and I love them melted on crumpets. However, I wouldn’t give to my 22 month old child, I really don’t think he should be being offered processed cheese for his lunch. So, the choice was a bag a salty crisps. A processed meat hotdog, a processed meat burger or processed cheese. On the basis he was hungry I opted for cheese. Daniel looked at the sandwich and said ‘no’.
We ended up heading to a local supermarket cafe where my nephew had strawberries with cream and Daniel had a fruit scone (not the healthiest I grant you but better than the alternative).
When we constantly see headlines about a national obesity crisis, the toll that being overweight takes on our health and the NHS and the messages bombarded to women during pregnancy about eating healthily and the messages as we prepare to wean our children about providing nutritionally balanced meals I find it infuriating that attempts to do so are stymied at child focused facilities.
More worryingly, the Sunflower Centre is also a day nursery. Surely they should know about healthy food? They will have to cater for a number of nursery children each day, so I was disappointed that they didn’t cater a better lunch option today.
This isn’t a problem unique to this centre, it seems to be the sort of thing I see time and time again.
That said, the kids all enjoyed their play time there, and I will certainly be heading back there again with Daniel and Emma, although next time I will take a packed lunch.
Am I being a bit over the top or does this sort of thing irritate you too?
*** As an aside I have contacted the Sunflower Centre with feedback about the food on offer… I will update here if / when I get a response ***