12 July 2002

Its good for everyone

Encouraging nurseries and

schools to claim free or

subsidised milk would

benefit both childrens health

and UK dairy producers.

Mike Stones explains how

readers can help

ABOUT 1m nursery children are missing out on free milk because nurseries are unaware of their eligibility, warns a leading milk campaigner.

"Its a tragedy that up to 1m under five-year-olds are denied free school milk simply because their nurseries are unaware that it exists," says chair of campaign group Milk For Schools, Stephanie Spiers.

"Some children, particularly from low income families, are missing out hugely and could fail to achieve their growth potential because parents and carers do not know they are eligible for free milk."

Mrs Spiers attributes the oversight to government cost cutting. "The availability of nursery milk is not even mentioned on the Department for Healths website. The government seems not to want to tell people about free milk presumably because it does not want to spend the money."

For information about nursery milk, Mrs Spiers advises parents to contact the Department for Healths Welfare Foods Reimbursement Unit (0207-8871212).

Big impact

Meanwhile, her organisation believes farmers weeklys campaign School Milk Matters, conducted in association with milk processor Dairy Crest, has already had a big impact in raising awareness about school milk.

"Since FW launched its campaign, we have had inquires from throughout the country. It is helping to provide information about milk to those who really need it."

So far, more than 1000 School Milk Matters campaign posters have been ordered from readers throughout the UK. Mrs Jacobs, Moor Farm, Newborough, Peterborough, requested 12 posters to display in her local school.

"We want to get more children to enjoy the benefits of milk rather than cheap squash drinks at our health promoting school," she said.

Sarah Lane, Grange Farm, North Denchworth, Oxon, said her local junior school was unaware of subsidised milk until recently.

"FWs campaign is a fantastic initiative. Milk is much better for young children than fizzy drinks. And it becomes even more important when some leave home without breakfast," said Mrs Lane. &#42

School Milk Matters fact sheet

&#8226 A carton of milk at break-time protects young teeth, builds strong bones, prevents dehydration and provides energy. Milk is rich in calcium, vitamins and minerals.

&#8226 Milk is provided free for children under five years old who attend nursery.

&#8226 EU subsidised milk is available to primary schoolchildren (aged 5-11). Parents pay about £7 a term and schools should apply for the subsidy from their local education authority.

&#8226 In Wales, where free school milk up to age seven has been introduced, there has been a 67,000 increase in the number of children drinking milk each day.

&#8226 Children whose parents receive income support and income-based Jobseekers Allowance are entitled to free school milk.

&#8226 For more on milk and its health benefits, contact The Dairy Council, 5/7 John Princes St, London W1G OJN. Tel: 0207-499 7822. (www.milk.co.uk).

&#8226 For information on starting a school milk scheme: The School Milk Research Project, St Martins Business Centre, Chequers Lane, Eversley Cross, Hants, RG27 ONY. Tel: 01252-875474. (www.schoolmilk.co.uk).

&#8226 For information on school milk and related matters, Milk for Schools, PO Box 412 Stafford ST 17 9TF. Tel/fax 01785-248345 or e-mail (Stephanie-spiers@milkforschools.org.UK).

&#8226 School Milk Matters is a farmers weekly campaign conducted in association with milk processor Dairy Crest.

Back our campaign

Would you like to help more children enjoy tasty, healthy and nutritious milk? Then, please back our campaign School Milk Matters.

Only 16% of eligible children enjoy EU subsidised milk, so there is much that can be done to boost uptake and benefit the UK dairy industry. If all eligible children enjoyed milk at school each day, they would not only help to build strong teeth and bones, but also consume 773,000 litres a day (1.4m pints). The value of milk sales would total nearly £128,000 a day or £640,000 at farmgate prices.

To help children claim the subsidised milk to which they are entitled, we would like you to cut out the fact sheet on this page and take or send it to your local school. Contact one or more of the organisations mentioned for full details of how to help your nursery school claim free or subsidised milk.

But there is even more that can be done. Why not photocopy the fact sheet and request that they be displayed in your local doctors or dentists surgery? Lets let everyone know how much our childrens health could benefit it they were encouraged to choose healthy milk in preference to some fizzy drinks.

If you would like more copies of the free fact sheet or free School Milk Matters posters, contact farmers weekly by phone (020-8652 4911), fax (020-8652 4005) or e-mail (farmers.weekly@rbi.co.uk).