Public health experts says Fonterra's decision to offer free milk in schools will provide long term health benefits.
The dairy giant will make free milk availabe to the country's 2000 primary schools by 2014.
Fonterra has beein trialling a school milk programme in Northland and will begin a nationwide rollout in Southland early next year.
A specialist in public health medicine at the University of Otago, Brian Cox, has studied the effects of school milk drinking habits.
He said milk provides much of the calcium children require for bone growth, and children who drink milk daily may have a 30% reduced risk of getting bowel cancer as an adult.
Professor of Public Health at the University of Otago Wellington, Richard Edwards, said it was good to see the promotion of basic foods, in this case low-fat milk.