14 Dec 2012

Milk's return to schools wins applause

9:35 am on 14 December 2012

Fonterra's decision to extend its school milk programme to the whole country has met with an enthusiastic response.

After trialling the programme in Northland this year, the dairy co-operative will offer a free daily serving of low-fat milk to pupils at every primary school.

The nationwide rollout will begin Southland at the start of next year. The company expects to have all schools that wish to take part signed up by the first term in 2014.

Fonterra says until then, it won't know what the cost will be but it's likely to be it to be the largest single community investment by a New Zealand company.

A Fonterra milk supplier and dairy farmer representative in Golden Bay, Sue Brown, says it's giving all school children the opportunity to develop a taste for plain milk and she thinks most farmers will regard that as a good investment.

"I think it's nice that Fonterra has worked out ways of giving back to New Zealand families as well as still giving a fair milk price to farmers," she says.

"Generally farmers feel quite positive about it.

""It's been interesting: the response and uptake has been different in different schools, and we're keen to see Fonterra develop that so that it is easy for schools to deliver," says Ms Brown.

Carly Robinson, who heads the Fonterra milk for schools programme, says the response from schools was immediate.

"Our website has just gone crazy, she said on Thursday. "We've got hundreds of schools registering their interest."

Fonterra's national milk for schools roll-out will complement the Government fruit in schools scheme, which is providing almost 97,000 students in low decile primary and intermediate schools with a piece of fruit a day.