Fonterra will offer free milk to all 350,000 primary school children starting next year, the dairy co-operative announced today at Hillpark Primary in Manurewa, Auckland.
After running a pilot programme in Northland primary schools this year, the company has decided to extend the scheme to primary schools throughout the country.
The voluntary scheme will be available to all 2000 of the country’s primary schools to pick up next year.
“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. We are proud that this programme gives every primary school kid the chance to enjoy this nutritious product,” said Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings.
‘‘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.”
With 85 per cent of Northland schools taking up the scheme, the pilot has been judged a success by Fonterra and given the company an opportunity to adjust the scheme to be easily adopted by schools.
“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 storage fridges that are more convenient have been offered.
“Our goal is to create a programme that fits seamlessly into the school day and this is why we have encouraged schools to find a system that works best for them,” said Carly Robinson, Fonterra’s coordinator of the programme.
At decile six Hillpark Primary most of the kids come to school well fed but school principal, and New Zealand Principals’ Federation executive member. 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 is 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.”
The milk in schools programme is an important example of the way businesses can work with schools to advance the community, Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said.
“I think it is really important that we see partnerships between businesses, schools and communities more generally on a range of things. It is about social responsibility from a business point of view.”
“I think this is a great initiative. It is a win win for all.”
The scheme was launched by Fonterra ambassador, All Black captain Richie McCaw, who was proud to be a part of the company's investment in New Zealand’s schools.
“We believe this is the largest single community investment by a New Zealand company and we are very proud to be making an investment in the health of our future generations.”