- New research from the School and Nursery Milk Alliance finds that Wales comes top amongst UK nations when it comes to school milk provision
- The research comes as part of World School Milk Day 2021 which celebrates the health benefits of school milk
- TV’s Dr Hilary Jones has called for government action to ensure that schools and nurseries across the UK are able to access the free healthy milk to which their pupils are entitled
Wales leads the way amongst UK nations when it comes to providing primary school age children (age 5-11) with healthy and nutritious milk.
The findings come as part of World School Milk Day 2021 which celebrates the benefits of healthy and nutritious school milk, and this year falls on Wednesday 29th September.
The School and Nursery Milk Alliance (SNMA) analysed the latest available data from DHSC (Department of Health and Social Care) and the RPA (Rural Payments Agency) and found that as an average per population, Wales provided 65 portions of milk per primary school-age child on average.
England lags behind with an average of just 19 portions of milk provided per primary school-age child, meaning that far too many English school children are missing out on healthy and nutritious milk.
Wales’s success in providing the most portions of milk for primary school-age children is perhaps not surprising as Wales is unique amongst UK nations in providing free milk for all children in Key Stage One, rather than just subsidising it.
School food standards require lower fat milk or lactose reduced milk to be available to drink at least once a day during school hours. To assist with the cost of providing milk, schools can take part in:
· The Nursery Milk Scheme, led by DHSC, providing free milk to children under the age of 5
· The School Milk Subsidy Scheme, managed and topped up by DEFRA, providing subsidised milk for all pupils children between five and 11 years old attending Ofsted-registered schools
Unfortunately, far too many schools and nurseries are unaware of the different available programmes that could be giving their pupils free healthy milk.
School milk is a healthy and tasty option for children. A review of evidence by Northumbria University concluded that drinking milk may support immediate and lasting dental and bone health in 5–11 year-old children and it could have a positive effect on preventing childhood obesity. The research showed that milk may support children’s cognition, particularly when served as a mid-morning snack, and its consumption staves off hunger.
Dr Hilary Jones said: “Regularly drinking milk could improve health outcomes for children and yet millions are missing out through a simple lack of awareness. There are numerous programmes available for children in schools and nurseries to access free healthy milk and yet the take up is shockingly low.
“World School Milk Day 2021 is the perfect opportunity for the government to make sure that UK schools and nurseries are aware of the different schemes that exist and encourage them to take the next step and sign up so that millions of school children across the country are able to drink free healthy milk. “
Jon Thornes, Chair of SNMA, said: “Congratulations to Wales for leading the way in providing the most milk per child across the UK. But despite this success, far too many children across the UK are still going without healthy and nutritious milk. We urge all UK nations to follow Wales’s lead and do more to ensure that as many children as possible receive milk at school.”