28 June 2002

Welsh English lesson

ENGLAND can learn a lot from Wales when it comes to getting milk into schools.

"Wales ought to get a gold star. It is putting England to shame," says Barbara Grif-fiths of the School Milk Research Project.

Across Wales, children up to the end of Key Stage 1 can enjoy free school milk courtesy of a National Assembly initiative introduced in April 2001. About 114,000 of the total primary school roll call of 264,000 are now getting milk.

Meanwhile, funding of £105,000 from the Welsh Development Agencys Food Directorate over a three-year period has allowed the SMRP to employ facilitators to cover the whole of the country.

"We are delighted with the extra funding, as it will ensure that more children enjoy the nutritional benefits of milk at an early age and improve the health of the future generation," says Ms Griffiths.

In addition, milk bars installed in secondary schools as trials in Powys have also helped increase consumption from about 6pt a day to 100 in one school and 10 to 150pt a day in another.

In north Wales, all the authorities are now offering the free under-five nursery milk along with the Key Stage 1 scheme. Some are also offering the subsidised scheme for up to 11-year-olds.

Pembrokeshire, the first authority in south Wales to work with the SMRP, is now offering milk in almost every school to children up to the age of 11. And the authority is seeking to extend the availability through to secondary age children.

In south Wales, almost all the authorities are offering the nursery and free Key Stage 1 milk – and a few are offering subsidised milk, with Caerphilly and Pembroke-shire having the biggest percentage of their roll call involved. "Wales is steaming ahead with all kinds of initiatives," she says.

&#8226 You can talk to Barbara or one of her team if you are going to the Royal Show on July 1-4 at Stoneleigh, Warks, on the farmers weekly stand (M300) where you can also pick up our free School Milk Matters poster.