Fund nutritious free breakfasts for NSW schools say leading advocacy groups
Leading food advocacy group Dairy Connect and Foodbank NSW & ACT (FBNA), the largest food relief organisation, today called on the State Government to fund free daily breakfasts, including freely available fresh nutritious milk, for primary school students.
In the lead-up to World School Milk Day, being held on Wednesday 27 September, Dairy Connect CEO Shaughn Morgan and Foodbank NSW/ACT Executive General Manager John Robertson said there were around 700 disadvantaged schools in NSW and the ACT.
In a joint statement, the two said health benefits for generations of school children had been trashed when the old free school milk program was axed during the 1970s.
“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’,” they said.
“Since the 1980s, however, concern has steadily grown year-on-year among health professionals about the impact carbonated soft drinks and energy drinks high in sugar were having on successive generations.”
John 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 NSW & ACT stands ready and able, with the dairy industry, to roll out a school breakfast program across the State, all we need is a commitment from Government to fund the fresh milk to pour over the cereal,” he said.
“The kids aren’t that keen on dry corn flakes in our experience.”
The Victorian Government funds a School Breakfast Club program servicing around 500 schools. Fresh milk is sourced from the Victorian dairy industry and costs the State 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.
Milk was an out-right winner when its nutritional role in children’s diets was compared with high sugar carbonated and energy drinks as well as other alternatives, Shaughn Morgan said.
Dairy farmers and nutritionists had last year backed a call by Senator Nick Xenophon for a federally-funded free milk program feasibility study in primary schools.
Every year, 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.
“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 statement said.
“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.”
Dairy Connect CEO
Phone: 0401 421 214
Foodbank NSW EGM
Phone 0449 069 131
About Dairy Connect
Dairy Connect – the Voice for Dairy - is a unique agricultural representative body, solely focused on being the voice for the needs of the dairy industry. Under one advocacy & lobbying umbrella, we are representing dairy farmers, manufacturers, processors, milk vendors & supporting corporate partners around a shared vision with an innovative long-term industry strategy. We are committed to providing initiatives that will reinvigorate and propel the industry forward as well as provide support to dairy farming communities & the communities that support them.
About Foodbank NSW-ACT
Foodbank NSW-ACT is the largest hunger relief organisation in NSW and the ACT. Last year alone, the organisation provided enough food for more than 15 million meals. Foodbank is a non-denominational, non-profit organisation which acts as a pantry to the charities and community groups that feed the hungry. It was first established in 1992 in NSW and now has a presence in every State and the Northern Territory with distribution centres in all capitals as well as a number of regional centres.