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Dairy Connect - Bring back free primary school milk

  • By: "Prime" Ag News
  • Apr 26, 2019

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A 1970s Federal Government decision to scrap free milk for primary school children was based on a false basis and needs to be reversed to ensure that primary school children receive fresh nutritious milk as part of a holistic breakfast program.

Dairy Connect CEO Shaughn Morgan said fresh milk was a dietary staple with a myriad of proven nutritional benefits for growing bodies and minds.

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The Federal Government and Opposition, in consultation with State Governments, should immediately commit to restoring the availability of nutritious fresh milk for all primary school aged children post-election.

The Victorian Government sponsors the Schools Breakfast Clubs program and provides funding of $13.7 million per annum. This program is independently administered by Foodbank Victoria.

The NSW Parliament has recommended that the NSW Department of Education and NSW Ministry of Health, in liaison with Foodbank NSW/ACT and other non-government stakeholders, introduce an evidence-based school breakfast program across NSW that targets schools with a high proportion of children from socially disadvantaged families, by the end of 2019.

It has been estimated in late 2017 by Foodbank NSW/ACT there were around 700 disadvantaged schools in NSW and the ACT.

Ironically the old scheme - which was first commenced by the Menzies Government in 1950 - was scrapped because of cost and what was then described as ‘lack of evidence’ of health benefits. This ‘old-age’ view is clearly incorrect.

“Fresh liquid milk is a premium quality, short shelf-life food of immense nutritional value containing 8 nutrients essential to human health, including B vitamins for energy, vitamin A to help maintain a healthy immune system and calcium which helps build and maintain bone strength.

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Every year, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation encouraged countries around the world to celebrate the health benefits of school milk programs.

“A free cereal and milk breakfast program for primary schools would deliver much-needed access to affordable, nutrient-rich dairy which would help underpin healthy growth and development in little humans,” the UN statement said.

“It is time for the Federal Government and Federal Opposition to commit to a free schools milk program helping not just primary school children remain healthy but providing much needed moral support to the Aussie dairy farmer and the dairy industry generally. Let’s have a free schools milk program throughout Australia when we celebrate World Schools Milk Day on 25 September later this year,” Shaughn concluded.