10 March 1999
Lord Archer plans free school milk
By Vicky Houchin
EVERY primary school pupil in London could be given a bottle of milk a day as part of a campaign by Lord Archer to become the capitals first elected mayor.
In an announcement expected before the end of this month, Lord Archer is set to unveil a £30m plan scheme which could have big benefits for farmers.
Lord Archers office told FWi today that three of the major supermarket chains are involved in the initiative to re-introduce free milk to every London primary school.
The scheme could be sponsored by Kelloggs, the breakfast cereal giant which has confirmed it is in negotiations with the Tory peer.
If each of Londons half-a-million primary school children is given one third of a pint of milk per day, daily demand would climb by 95,000 litres.
Assuming that schools have a 40-week year, this potentially increases the annual demand for liquid milk by about 19 million litres about half a days national production.
The initiative has been welcomed by Stephanie Spiers, of the charity Milk for Schools, who said that one in three school children go to school with little or no breakfast.
Milk is being denied to school children because local authorities are failing to provide milk to school children on income support, she said.
Stefan Shakespeare, Lord Archers press representative, said the proposed scheme is still in the discussion stages and an announcement is not expected until later this month.
The big supermarkets denied any knowledge of the campaign but at least one has supported previous initiatives encouraging school children to drink milk.
Weve been involved in milk for schools in the past but weve not been approached this time, said Mandy Percy of Sainsburys.
It is over 25 years since Margaret Thatcher, then Education and Health Secretary, earned herself the playground moniker of the Milk Snatcher by scrapping free school milk.
The new scheme could win Lord Archer some much needed votes: the only children who now qualify for free milk are those on income support and those under the age of five.