Fonterra will offer free milk to all 350,000 New Zealand primary school children starting next year, the dairy co-operative announced today at Hillpark Primary in Manurewa.
After running a sucessful pilot programme in Northland primary schools this year, where 85 per cent of schools took part, the company has decided to extend the scheme to all 2,000 primary schools throughout the country.
The scheme was launched by Fonterra ambassador, All Black captain Richie McCaw.
Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings said the company believed the programme would "make a lasting difference to the health of New Zealand's children".
"New Zealand is the largest exporter of dairy products in the world but at home we're not drinking as much milk as we used to. We want to be the dairy nutrition capital of the world and this starts with our kids."
The pilot gave the company an opportunity to adjust the scheme to be easily adopted by schools nationwide.
"The Northland pilot allowed us to test our systems. We learnt valuable lessons and got great feedback from schools in the area. We can now move forward with confidence the programme is a winner," Spierings said.
The milk cartons have been reduced from 250ml to 180ml and smaller, more convienient storage fridges have been offered.
At decile-six Hillpark Primary most of the kids come to school well fed but school principal Gavin Beere said it was an important educational tool for the children on healthy living.
"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."
It was in the interest of all of New Zealand to have children well fed at school, he said.
"Whether you agree with milk in schools or not they certainly learn better with a full tummy."
Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said the programme was an important example of the way businesses could work with schools.
"I think this is a great initiative. It is a win, win for all."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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