News

Milk for children great but not enough

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has welcomed the commitment by Fonterra to provide milk to children in Northland primary schools but asks when is the government going to step up to the plate and help schools fund breakfasts in our poorest schools?

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has welcomed the commitment by Fonterra to provide milk to children in Northland primary schools. The plan to provide universal coverage is an important element in making sure that all children will receive the milk. International evidence shows clearly that the most effective coverage for children occurs when recipients are not targeted

Research and evidence from budgeting agencies in low-income communities suggests that milk is increasingly a luxury item for many households. Yet it is an important source of nutrients for children, including protein, calcium, and some iron. While nutritionists recommend milk for children, for many families it is simply off the menu. Being able to get milk at school will improve many children’s nutrition and free up some household money for other essential items.

 CPAG researcher Donna Wynd notes that many children already get some milk through school breakfast programmes, but that it is good to see this getting a boost. But she also says that it falls far short of the need in low-decile schools for reliably and adequately funded breakfast programmes for the neediest children.

“While it is good that Fonterra is committed to this and to its school breakfast programme, the fact is that it is too little to fill the gap left by low household income and overworked parents. When is the government going to step up to the plate and help schools fund breakfasts in our poorest schools? This would be a much more cost-effective way of improving educational and health outcomes for children in low-income communities than charter schools. The benefit goes directly to those most in need, and the social aspects of school breakfast programmes also assist disadvantaged students with their schoolwork. Such a shame we have to rely on private sponsorship to help with what is a basic service in other countries. Our children are lucky Fonterra has chosen to help fill the gap,” she said.