Content supplied by Fonterra
All 350,000 primary school children throughout New Zealand will be offered a free serving of milk every school day from next year, as part of the nationwide Fonterra Milk for Schools programme, the dairy co-operative announced today.
Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings said that after trialling the school milk programme in Northland, Fonterra had decided to roll out the programme to all 2,000 primary schools throughout the country from next year.
"We are totally committed to Fonterra Milk for Schools because we believe it will make a lasting difference to the health of New Zealand’s children. We want Kiwis to grow up drinking milk because it’s good for them and we are proud that this programme will give every primary school kid the chance to enjoy this nutritious product," he said.
"New Zealand is the largest exporter of dairy products in the world, but at home, we’re not drinking as much milk as we used to. We want to be the dairy nutrition capital of the world and this starts with our kids."
Research conducted by the University of Auckland has shown that children’s milk consumption in the Northland community, both at school and at home, has significantly increased since the pilot began.
"We know that getting Kiwis drinking more milk is not an overnight job but we are committed to helping improve the health of our kids," said Mr Spierings.
The Co-operative made the announcement at an event co-hosted by its farmer shareholders and Hillpark Primary School in Manurewa.
Mr Spierings said the success of this year’s Northland pilot had informed the decision to roll out nationally.
"The Northland pilot allowed us to test our systems. We learnt some valuable lessons and got great feedback from schools in the area. We can now move forward with confidence the programme is a winner."
"That said, this is a huge undertaking and we’ll be rolling out town by town. We will continue with Northland, and launch in Southland in the first term next year, moving through the country during the year. We expect to have all schools who wish to take part on board by Term 1 2014."
Manaia Health Chief Executive Chris Farrelly said the Northland community was privileged to trial the programme and was pleased that all schools would now get the opportunity.
"This move by New Zealand’s largest company to make this wonderful product available to our children is a significant game changer," said Farrelly.
"This is not just looking out for our kids today, but for the future. If we get it right for them now, then we’re going to get it right for our country."
Principal of Hillpark Primary and New Zealand Principals’ Federation executive member, Gavin Beere, said the Federation fully supports Fonterra’s generous move.
"Schools play a key role in shaping children’s lifestyles. This includes their diets and attitudes towards nutrition, so it’s incredible to be able to offer this healthy product every school day."
Fonterra Ambassador Richie McCaw said: “Over this past year I have been blown away by the passion of Fonterra’s people and the importance of the Co-operative’s farmer roots in everything it does. As a country, we should be extremely proud of this long-term commitment our New Zealand dairy farmers are making."
Spierings said the cost of the programme would depend on the number of schools participating – and this would not be known until the end of next year. "While we don’t know the exact number, we believe this is the largest single community investment by a New Zealand company and we are very proud to be making this investment in the health of our future generations."