NSW dairy lobby, Dairy Connect, and food relief organisation, Foodbank NSW & ACT (FBNA), want the NSW Government to fund free daily breakfasts, including milk, for primary school students.
On World School Milk Day last month, Dairy Connect CEO Shaughn Morgan and Foodbank NSW/ACT head John Robertson said there were around 700 disadvantaged schools in NSW and the ACT.
Mr Robertson said 1 in 6 students were arriving at school hungry and the government had a critical role to play in supporting them.
He said Foodbank could roll out a school breakfast program immediately if the Government provided a commitment to fund the fresh milk to pour over the cereal.
“The kids aren’t that keen on dry corn flakes in our experience,” he said.
The Victorian Government funds a School Breakfast Club program for around 500 schools. Fresh milk is sourced from the Victorian dairy industry and costs the Government around $14 million a year.
The program — managed by Foodbank Victoria — serves up around 400 000 litres of fresh milk each year.
“Such a program in NSW, with support from Government and the NSW dairy industry, would provide a nutritious beginning for our children each school day in metropolitan, regional and rural areas,” Mr Robertson said.
Mr Morgan said dairy farmers and nutritionists backed a call by Senator Nick Xenophon last year for a federally-funded free milk program feasibility study in primary schools.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation encouraged countries around the world to celebrate the health benefits of school milk programs on the last Wednesday in September.
In a statement, the international body said: “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.”
“Access to the basic building blocks of sustainable diets would leverage a reduction in numerous health risks, including obesity, for children and adults.
“Milk is the ultimate food source for calcium, potassium and vitamin D, three of the four nutrients of public health concern that many children most lacked in their diets.
“Since more than 90 per cent of the population falls short of the recommended three daily servings of milk and milk products, making free fresh drinking milk available at primary schools would play a vital role in health and well-being through adulthood.”