Schools welcome free milk scheme

Yum: Portia Huffam, aged 6, enjoys a glass of milk.
Yum: Portia Huffam, aged 6, enjoys a glass of milk.

Marlborough primary school principals are welcoming a scheme that offers school children a free daily serving of low-fat, long life milk, which will be available to pupils around the region by the middle of next year.

Marlborough school children will be among thousands across the country who will be given a 180ml pack of low-fat UHT, or long-life, milk under the Milk for Schools programme, launched by dairy co-operative Fonterra on Thursday last week.

Fonterra has emailed all 2000 primary schools nationwide for expressions of interest to opt into the programme, which also offers schools a fridge and help with recycling the packs.

Havelock School principal Ernie Buutveld was pleased the programme was being offered in all schools, which broke down any potential stigma from the hand-outs.

"The beauty of it is that schools don't have to meet any threshold," he said. There's no stigma attached - it's simply on offer."

However, it looked as though the programme was only for pupils in years 1 to 6, which left out the school's year 7 and 8 pupils.

Mayfield School principal David Nott said the school would consult with its board of trustees, staff and parents before deciding to opt into the programme.

Pupils would receive a double benefit, as the school also received free fruit as part of a Government scheme for which all decile one and two primary and intermediate schools could opt into. All Mayfield School pupils were given one serving of fruit each week day before morning tea.

Marlborough Principals Association president and Spring Creek School principal Andrew McFarlane said the school had lodged their interest, as anything that saved parents money and promoted pupils' health was positive.

Springlands School principal Gaylene Beattie said the school had expressed their interest in being a part of the programme and was waiting for further details.

Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings said the programme's introduction to the regions would be staggered. The milk would be available first in Southland in term one next year. All regions would be provided for by term 1 2014.

The date the programme rolls out to Marlborough schools has yet to be confirmed, but all South Island schools enlisted would have the packs for distributing by the middle of the second school term.

The Marlborough Express