Memorandum submitted by Milk for Schools
Status of the presented material: Milk For Schools
is a voluntary parent organisation which was formed in 1994. The
charity is a member of the European Anti-Poverty Network, UK Public
Health Association and is linked to the United Nations Food and
Agriculture Organisations global school nutrition forum.
Mission Statement: to educate the public in
the field of school based nutrition with particular regard to
domestic and European legislation.
The charity has produced the following reports:
Surveys of LEAs: The Sins of Omission; The Hunger Within; By Bread
Alone; Under-Milked Woods; Oursels As Others See Us; School Milk
in N Ireland; Bones of Contention; Free Nursery Milk in Britain;
Suffer the Children; Implementation of the DfES School Nutrition
Standards with Regard to the Milk Component: Why Children Today
Need School Milk.
Milk For Schools has participated in the following
UN FAO International School Milk Conferences: PragueTorontoStockholmWindsor.
Milk For Schools operates a daily cross-sector
e-bulletin service which links charitiesfocus groupsindustrylocal
authoritiesfarmersprocessors etc which provides
information on school based nutrition issues. This service is
linked to the UN FAO's global e-bulletin focus group.
Meeting the needs of the next generation through
integrated sustainable development policies is a stated government
key priority, however Milk For Schools is concerned:
That legislation already in place
to reduce child poverty is not being implemented by local education
authoritiesie free daily school milk is not being provided
for those children entitled to a free school meal in schools where
milk schemes are being provided (Education Act 2002).
That school nutrition provision is
not monitored by central government in England and Waleseven
though the Scottish legislation will call for such monitoring. That
school nutrition provision carries no penalty for falling below
standards which leads to widespread abuses.
That DEFRA has not reinstated the
withdrawn EU school cheese subsidy.
That DEFRA has not reinstated the
withdrawn secondary school milk subsidy.
That the DfES permits the sale of
carbonated soda drinks in schools.
That the DfES permits the advertising
and sponsorship by junk food manufacturers in schools.
That the DfES healthy schools schemes
will certificate a school as being a healthy environment even
if there is no milk being provided and if that school peddles
junk food in every corridor.
The DfES permits the sale of chocolate
bars being displayed alongside canteen cash tills.
That whilst welcoming the fact that
the Welsh Assembly has introduced free school milk for key stage
one children and now proposes to introduce free school breakfasts
in primary schoolsthe other three regions have not followed
this leadwhich means it is now a postcode lottery as to
what school based nutrition services are on offer and a child
in say Rugby or Luton who is impoverished will not have any free
school milk or a free school breakfast but a child in Newport
or Cardiff will. Nine years ago a research study recommended universal
free school breakfast provision for primary schools(Children
Who Have No BreakfastLandman/Box).
That the DH's cost cutting reform
proposals of the Welfare Foods Scheme are a disgracethey
seek to restrict access to the European School Milk Subsidy Scheme
for children under the age of five yearsthis restriction
in a scheme which is already failing to reach an estimated three
quarters of a million children in day care due to the complexity
of the free nursery milk element of the programme.
That the DH has no internet access
and no email contact for the Welfare Food Claims Service as operated
by the WFRU and does not advertise this scheme on its own websitecontrary
to governmentopen government policy.
That the DH free fruit scheme is
only available in maintained day-care whilst the majority of day-care
is privatised and thus the children not eligible. That the
DH free fruit scheme is only available up to six yearsand
there is no provision for fruit to continue even if it was paid
for by parents.
That the DH two free schemes are
not run under the same rulesthus free milk stops at exactly
the child's fifth birthday but the free fruit stops at the end
of the next academic year. This makes it very difficult for schools
to administer both the schemes at the same time and the cut off
times annoy parents intensely.
Only 16% of UK children in primary
education aged over five years have access to the European School
Milk Subsidy Scheme.
Of school milk uptakethe majority
is made up of the free under five milk schemethe rest for
those over five is often only available to those children who
use the catering servicethus 60% of children even in a
milk providing school may be denied access to this European citizenship
Britain is 84% below the proposed
benchmark level for a European School Milk Plan as proposed by
the UNFAO Third European School Milk ConferenceSweden Jun
2003-11-22 at primary levelsecondary level is worse in
England/Wales and N Ireland.
Free nursery milk via the DH Welfare
Foods Scheme provision is discretionary upon the provider which
has led to low uptakeit depends largely whether day-care
is local authority maintained or not whether free milk is being
offeredpresently the scheme is apparently only reaching
two thirds of children so eligible.
Local authorities have three choicesthey
can provide subsidised milk themselvesthey can use an agency
to provide the subsidised milk on their behalfthey can
ExampleOne LEA says if a child drinks
a glass of milkthat is a pudding choice and therefore they
cannot have a puddingand the DfES has agreed that such
lamentable provision is acceptable under the Nutrition Standards.
Free school milk in special schools
and units is discretionary upon local authorities which leads
to low provision levels and inequality of provision.
Free milk which should be available
to free meals entitled childrenwhen other milk is providedie
Education Act 2002 is largely ignored south of the Scottish border.
One child in three goes to school
without food and probably without fluidand yet school breakfast
schemes have no direct funding route from central governmentmany
have to close due to the fact that those children who need a school
breakfast cannot afford to buy one.
3.8 million UK children are living
in poverty of which a large percentage is at nutritional risk
ie have multiple nutritional deficiencies such as Vitamin A; calcium;
ironwhich can lead to long term health problems such as
failure to attain peak bone masspoor dental healthanaemiagrowth
rate and the immune system being affected.
School nurses are no longer required
to weigh and measure children thus school malnutrition screening
is no longer being carried outthis means that there can
be no positive intervention such as free milkthe Doctor's
Certificates scheme no longer operates which used to identify
malnourished and at risk children and instruct intervention provision. According
to the Malnutrition Advisory Groupof those children who
are monitoredusually in hospital15% are found to
be suffering from malnutrition.
The Child Tax Credit Scheme fails
to give adequate information about who can claim free school mealslocal
authorities reported to us that the vast majority of families
claiming free meals were rejected because although claimants were
on very low income and were way below the cut off threshold of
£13,230 they were not eligible because they were in low paid
work and claiming Working Tax Credit.
School mealsmean different
things in different locationsin top provision areasthis
can mean at primary level a hot meal and a dessert and a drinkin
others it can mean a handout bag containing half a sausage roll
and a plastic cup of coloured water with a bag of plain crispsthis
is not an exaggeration.
Non-catering areas are on the increasein
these areas the children in receipt of the bags are discriminated
against and stigmatised by this type of inadequate provisionfamilies
often will not take up the option of a free meal when such a "meal"
is a free handout bag as they do not want their children to be
humiliated. This opting out adds to the economic burdens of the
free meal entitled family.
The BMA has stated that a minimum
nutritional standard of school meals should be a safety net for
deprived childrenyet Save the Children have reported that
some children have no food to eat at all at lunchtimearound
5% had no food in the 1980s according to research carried out
at the time by the BNF thus things have not improved in 20 yearsthese
children fall through the net because they have no money or food
provided from home and yet are not entitled to a free meal. Some
schools provided free bread for such children the majority do
nothing and the children go hungry
That animal rights extremist propaganda
aimed at children as young as four years of age is being permitted
in primary schools. The packs are particularly damaging when that
material encourages children away from a balanced diet and teach
infants that it is wrong to eat meat and wrong to drink milk.
Head teachers have the authority
to be able to block free school milk /subsidised school milk and
school fruit and school water and school breakfast introduction
as some of these "gatekeepers" are known to be doing
1. All nursery and schools providing primary
education should have to provide a mid morning subsidised milk
scheme available for all pupils whose parents wish them to participatean
alternative of clean water should be availablethis should
be a requirement on schools not an option.
2. All such milk should be stored in refrigeration
and served below 5 degrees Cun-refrigerated milk should
not be permitted.
3. Free milk should be provided for all
children under the age of five years in day-care200mlif
they attend for a two hour periodthis should not be optional
on the provider.
4. Free milk should be provided for all
children who are entitled to a free school meal on a daily basissuch
provision should not be optional (example one LEA has three times
refused to provide daily free Income Support milk which would
cost £500,000 even though it made £1.2 million in profit
from school catering.).
5. Free fruit programme should be extended
to all children in primary education.
6. Free school breakfasts should be universally
providedthis would impact on truancyshoplifting
and petty crimeand improve academic achievement. There
should be a central government direct funding route
7. Free school meals should be provided
for all families whose income is below the Child Tax Credit threshold
regardless of Working Tax Credit claims.
8. Children who present themselves at school
having no food and no money should be properly fed by schools
regardless of whether they are legally entitled and the home situation
should be investigated by the schools welfare officerit
is not acceptable for children to be going hungry all day.
9. School meals standards should be externally
monitored and there should be high penalties for low standards
10. Non-catering areas should be forced
to reinstate a hot school meals servicehandout bags should
be bannedeven better the Councillors who agreed to this
form of child abuse should be made to eat the grim contents of
the wretched bags in front of their peers.
11. Secondary schools should be required
to withdraw their vending of sweets and carbonated soda drinks
and exchange them for healthier alternatives such as milks/waters/fruit
12. Secondary schools should not advertise
junk foods or drinks.
13. Secondary schools should not permit
sponsorship of sporting activities by junk foods companies.
14. Secondary schools should be required
to install Milk Bars(currently 500 a year are being installed
but this scheme has to negotiate reluctant gatekeepers which slows
15. Special schools should all be required
to provide daily free milk for all pupils who wish to participate.
16. The Healthy Schools scheme should not
be permitted to certificate a school as a healthy environment
if that school does not have a clean water scheme and a milk programme
and if it happily peddles junk food and drinks. This programme
should be externally monitored.
17. DEFRA should be required to immediately
reinstate the discretionary elements of the EU School Milk Subsidy
Scheme for cheese and secondary school milk and should attempt
to reinstate the lost catering milk subsidy which would be highly
beneficial to those schools providing free breakfasts.
18. DEFRA should be required to demonstrate
how a School Milk Plan for Britain will operateie to be
in accordance with the recommendation for a School Milk Plan for
Europeand to show how school milk support fits into its
sustainable development policy for regeneration of the rural community
and how it envisages expansion of the school milk market as a
key constituent of a plan to reduce the effects of the CAP reform
on the dairy sector and to bring Britain up to the recommended
European standard for school milk supply.
19. School caterers should be encouraged
to fully utilise the EU yogurt subsidy which is hardly being used
at all presently.
20. In schools where school milk is being
made available parents should be encouraged to allow their children
to participate and have the scheme promoted to themas under
the terms of the School Milk Plan for Europe.
21. Head teachers should not be able to
block improvements to school nutrition such as subsidised milk
and fruit schemes.
22. Animal Rights extremist propaganda should
not be permitted in primary schools. Children whilst in the care
of school governors should not be exploited and manipulated by
extremist group supporters who are seeking to encourage children
away from a balanced diet on to a non-dairy and non-meat regime
contrary to the DH's balanced diet recommendations. There is no
point in having recommendations if teachers are allowed to teach
23. To make the maximum impact, of course,
refrigerated daily free school milk for all children should be
reinstated and Britain should adopt the Scandinavian system of
substantial healthy free school mealsbreakfasts and lunchesin