Northeast Valley School pupils drink their milk in the
1950s. Photo by Evening Star.
Otago primary school children can expect to receive a
free daily serving of milk next year, as part of a national bid
to become ''the dairy nutrition capital of the world''.
Fonterra's ''Milk for Schools'' programme will be rolled out
in Southland primary schools first, at the start of term 1,
January 28, and will then spread through the country during
By the middle of term 2, all areas of the South Island are
expected to be receiving school milk.
In launching Milk for Schools yesterday, Fonterra chief
executive Theo Spierings said he hoped all New Zealand
schools wishing to take part would be receiving the low-fat
180ml servings by the end of term 1, 2014.
Fonterra would also provide fridges to keep supplies cool.
A previous government-backed free school milk scheme in New
Zealand was stopped in 1967.
Otago Primary Principals' Association president and Bathgate
School principal Whetu Cormick said Milk for Schools was a
positive initiative for children across the country. Many
lower-decile schools already had access to other health
initiatives, such as Kick Start Breakfast and Fruit in
Schools, and the milk scheme would provide some equity across
all New Zealand schools, he said.
The programme was trialled in Northland this year, and
University of Auckland research showed Northland children's
milk consumption at school and at home had increased
significantly since the pilot began.
''We are totally committed to Fonterra Milk for Schools
because we believe it will make a lasting difference to the
health of New Zealand's children,'' Mr Spierings said.
''New Zealand is the largest exporter of dairy products in
the world, but at home, we're not drinking as much milk as we
''We want to be the dairy nutrition capital of the world, and
this starts with our kids.''
A Fonterra spokesman refused to reveal the cost of one
serving of milk for a child, but said the programme was
expected to cost in the millions.
There are 2000 primary schools in New Zealand, with 350,000
New Zealand Principals' Federation executive member and
Hillpark Primary School principal Gavin Beere supported
Fonterra's ''generous'' move.
''Schools play a key role in shaping children's lifestyles.
This includes their diets and attitudes towards nutrition, so
it's incredible to be able to offer this healthy product
every school day,'' Mr Beere said.
Milk in schools
• It has been 45 years since milk was last provided in New
• The first Labour government introduced the free milk in
schools initiative in 1937 to improve the health and welfare
of young New Zealanders following the Great Depression, and
use up surplus milk. By 1940, the milk was available to more
than 80% of pupils.
• School milk monitors dished out half-pint (284ml) bottles
of milk during morning class sessions.
• Despite the initiative being a world first, not everyone
enjoyed it. Crates of milk were usually stored in a raised,
small slatted shed, close to the school gates.
• Often the milk was warm, and the taste and smell did not
appeal to all children. Amid increased public doubt about the
health benefits of milk, and financial pressure, the milk in
schools scheme was dropped in 1967.