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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Free milk is about to return as an everyday part of school life for primary pupils in Glasgow
More than 30 years after Margaret Thatcher, then Conservative Education Secretary, made the decision to scrap the nationwide scheme, earning her the nickname “Milk Snatcher”, Scotland’s largest local authority is to become the first to reintroduce free milk.
All 41,228 city primary school pupils will be entitled to half-pint cartons of full-fat, semi-skimmed or chocolate and strawberry flavour milk at lunchtime and other breaks.
The free milk scheme is being funded in its first year by the Scottish Executive’s Hungry for Success programme, which aims to improve children’s health nationwide.
It is the first free milk scheme in Scotland and builds on Glasgow’s other healthy eating initiatives in schools. In 2001, Glasgow introduced Fruit Plus, the UK’s first scheme to offer free fruit daily to every 3-11 year old. Last year, the city launched the UK’s first free breakfast project for every primary school child. It also introduced a free milk option for every child buying a snack or lunch from the healthy school menu.
All fizzy drinks have been banned from Glasgow’s primary schools and all drinks dispensers in its secondaries have had brand names removed.
The free breakfast scheme has since been copied by other local authorities across the UK, most recently in Hull.
Glasgow decided to bring back free school milk after research showed that young adults who had been denied the service had an increased risk of tooth decay and bone disease.
One glass of milk provides children with 85 per cent of the recommended daily intake of calcium.
The Glasgow milk scheme is believed to go further than any other similar project in the UK, including the Welsh National Assembly scheme to fund free school milk for all pupils aged 5-7, and various other school-based projects across Britain which offer cheaply priced milk to pupils, thanks to European Union subsidies.
The British Medical Association commended the initiative. Catherine Hankey, a lecturer in Human Nutrition at Glasgow University, said: “Anything which keeps youngsters away from fizzy drinks can only be good. Glasgow City Council deserves credit for this scheme, as milk is an important source of calcium to youngsters. I would urge the council to make sure the milk is semi-skimmed”.
For further information contact: Stephanie M. Spiers, Chair, Milk for Schools, PO Box 412, Stafford ST17 9TF. Tel/Fax: 01785 248345; Web site: www.milkforschools.org.uk (Registered Charity 1064361).