7 June 2002

Thanks to campaigners…

Warm congratulations to farmers weekly and Dairy Crest for kicking off the industry support for School Milk Week.

At a time when the Milk Task Force Report recommended the dairy industry should involve as many as possible, to all pull together to promote school milk and develop this massive virtually untouched, and at times neglected, home milk market, this School Milk Matters campaign has to be admired.

When we began in 1994 school milk uptake was down to 1.4%. It is now around 20% but that includes free milk for the under fives which accounts for the bulk. Only around 10% of children aged five-11 years currently have school milk on offer – and most of that is only once a week as part of a school dinner. So thats 90% of a primary market entirely going to waste and that doesnt include the secondary schools which are devoid of milk and awash with fizzy pop.

School milk represents around 1-2% of the UK liquid milk market at present – and that is under threat from the governments Welfare Foods Review – it could be 19-20% if properly developed, especially if the government honoured their promises to reinstate all the European subsidy money they withdrew us from.

Subsidies for cheese, catering milk and secondary schools are all going begging. French children munch their way through a mountain of subsidised cheese at around 10,000 tonnes/year – yet our schools have had none since 1993.

Farmers can do real things to make a difference – here are a few simple suggestions:

Are you or family members school governors? If so:

&#8226 Check that teachers are not using Animal Rights packs to brainwash children that drinking milk and eating meat is wrong (advice from the DfES who acknowledge this is widespread).

&#8226 Encourage the head-teacher to opt into school milk subsidy claims schemes operated by their catering departments – or agencies – or to start a school breakfast scheme.

&#8226 Encourage your local councillors to ensure the education authority provides daily free milk for its Income Support children – they can – but hardly any do so. This is a massive market around 2.5m thirds a day for 38 weeks a year – you do the maths.

&#8226 Plan an event for School Milk Week, Oct 7-11, 2002.

We are holding a School Milk Cup football tournament for 400 children from 40 primary schools in an area with only 50% school milk uptake.

Always remember you are not alone – School Milk Week is part of a global celebration of school milk by countries taking part in the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisations world school milk forum, which hosts two international School Milk Conferences in different parts of the world every year.

If they could achieve starting school milk in China – it makes your local school seem so much more possible. (School milk slogan for China: A cup of milk, a stronger China) It works for me…

Good luck to you all.

Stephanie M Spiers

Chair, Milk For Schools (reg charity), P O Box 412, Stafford, ST17 9TF.

Tel/fax 01785-248345, www.milkforschools.org.uk