School Milk in South Africa
The dairy industry is the fourth largest agricultural sector in the country and plays a critical role in bringing about food security in South Africa.
One of the strategic thrusts of the MPO is the promotion of the consumption of milk and dairy products among school children concurrent with the promotion of investment in the industry by role players throughout the value chain and the relevant government departments. The objectives of these activities are to create awareness with the consumer and government of the contribution of milk and dairy products to the physical and intellectual development of children and to increase the demand for dairy products in order to promote market extension and growth of the industry in the interest of future food security.
School feeding schemes including milk were successfully run in this country for many decades. During the 1950/60 period milk was delivered to schools in milk cans and distributed to the learners by responsible teaching staff. Administration problems, however, led to the demise of milk in schools resulting in the funds being allocated for other purposes.
Milk still remains one of natures’ most complete foodstuffs, rich in nutrients such as protein and carbohydrates as well as minerals (calcium) and vitamins. Research indicates that milk has a significant effect on the development of children’s physical and intellectual capacity which contributes positively to general scholastic performance.
Actions by the MPO
The MPO took the initiative and embarked on several actions with respect to the promotion of the consumption of dairy products by school children. What is remarkable about these actions is that the MPO does not have any funds available from its annual budget to finance the activities and is reliant on sponsorships and donations.
Fourth International School Milk Conference
The MPO in collaboration with the FAO and with the support of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) hosted the fourth International School Milk Conference at Spier Estate, Stellenbosch from 6 to 8 November 2006. The main goal of the conference was to create awareness with both government and the whole dairy value-chain regarding the benefits of a school milk scheme and the critical importance of a partnership between government and the dairy industry in ensuring the economic viability and sustainability of such a scheme. The conference afforded role players in the dairy industry from the supply of raw milk, through processing and packaging thereof as well as decision makers in the relevant government departments and organisations from participating countries the opportunity to share information and experiences on an international platform regarding the establishment and support of sustainable school milk schemes. The Conference was well attended by delegates from various FAO member countries and led to the development of a partnership between the MPO and the National Department of Agriculture to establish a pilot school milk project involving emerging milk producers in Qwa-Qwa and the Eastern Cape.
National School Milk Day
Member countries of the FAO annually celebrate International School Milk Day during the month of September. The MPO identified a further opportunity to promote industry growth and decided to follow the example of numerous countries around the world by initiating a National School Milk Day. The MPO Free State paved the way by handing out milk at three schools in Bloemfontein in 2004 and on 21 September 2005, the first National School Milk Day was celebrated countrywide. The MPO used its formal structures which are in place throughout the country to mobilise milk producers to participate in the event by donating milk and arranging for the processing and packaging thereof to be distributed to learners at schools in the vicinity. With the help of the MPO teachers and learners were also informed about the nutritional benefits of drinking milk. The day was very successful and enjoyed extensive media coverage.
National School Milk Day has evolved into an informative and fun-filled event through which about 30 000 learners are reached by the MPO annually. In view of the success of the event, the MPO developed a colouring in and activity book for children from Grade 0 to 3 in six different languages namely English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu, Tswana and Sesotho. The MPO obtained the cooperation of Milk SA’s Consumer Education Project and nutritionally based Power Point presentations which give an overview of the benefits that the drinking of milk and the use of dairy products have for children were developed. The presentations were compiled in English and Afrikaans for the three groups: Grade 0 to 3, Grade 4 to 7 and Grade 8 to 12.
Download reports of school milk day activities throughout the country since 2009.