5 July 2002

SCHOOL CHILDREN SCHEME

WILL BENEFIT WHOLE CHAIN

SCHOOL Milk Matters, the campaign launched by farmers weekly and Dairy Crest, a few weeks ago, aims to get more children drinking milk. The benefits of increased consumption, both through milk sold to school and longer term as a milk drinking habit is encouraged, will be seen through the milk chain.

Producers themselves have much to gain. If all eligible school children in England and Wales took school milk daily they would consume more than 800,000 litres daily. That equals sales worth about £134,000/day at farmgate prices.

Currently only about 10% of children aged five to 11 years have school milk on offer, says Stephanie Spiers of the Milk for Schools charity.

Many schools are put off by the hassle of organising milk and live with the memories of warm school milk. But that has all changed, as Jeanette Lewis, headteacher at Hazelbury Bryan Primary School in Dorset, has found out.

She has introduced milk using the Cool Milk at School company, which operates throughout the UK administering schemes for County Councils.

"Milk is ordered and paid for at the start of each term. We dont have to get involved in taking the money at all and we receive a list each Friday of the children who will be taking milk the following week." The milk is delivered twice a week in third-pint cartons and stored in a refrigerator, supplied by Cool Milk.

But schools still need encouragement, according to Sussex arable farmer and school milk campaigner Roger Foxwell. "You need to start at the bottom and work up." Motivating parents who can lobby schools.

He also suggests talking to teachers, headteachers and governors to get the subject on the agenda. These efforts can pay off, in the past year he has succeeded in getting four schools to participate in the scheme.

Farm visits

Mr Foxwell also believes that hosting school visits will help get the message across. "Schools will be more likely to participate if they can relate to a local farmer."

While he appreciates its difficult for producers to find the time to campaign, theres probably someone in the family who can help, he says.

The campaign team at farmers weekly and Dairy Crest needs producers to help to support this industry initiative. You can help, by finding out if your local school provides milk. If not, take some action to make them aware of our campaign, you can order posters and packs, as detailed on this page, to help you take further action.

Further details of the campaign and the successes of campaigners will continue to feature in farmers weeklys Farmlife section. &#42

To order copies of our free School Milk Matters poster (above)

telephone 020 8652 4911 or

email farmersweekly@rbi.co.uk stating the number required.

Milk for Schools:01785-248345,www. milkforschools.org.uk

The Dairy Council:020-76597312,www.milk.co.uk

Cool Milk at School:0800-3897 157, www.coolmilk.co.uk

School Milk Research Project:01252-875474, www.schoolmilk.co.uk

Roger Foxwells campaigning means his son, Tom, and many other children receive school milk.

SHOUT FOR MILK

Are you interested in banging the drum for school milk? If so, its well worth getting hold of The Dairy Councils booklet Campaigning for School Milk – A Farmers Guide. It contains great tips on everything from writing to MPs to key facts and figures. To get your copy, ring 020-7499 7822.