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World School Milk Day approaches!

Date: September 22, 2022
Insights type: Blog
Categories: Blog

As we soon approach World School Milk Day on 28 September, IDF would like to highlight the importance of school meal programmes, which help to feed the community across the globe.

School Meal programmes (SMPs) are a significant safety net for children and their communities. As one of the primary means for children to get healthy meals, they help combat poverty and malnutrition. Their impact on education is seen in increased engagement from students. They also serve as incentives for families to send their children, especially girls, to school, thus supporting children’s rights to education, nutrition, and well-being.

The UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS), convened by the UN Secretary-General in September 2021, brought governments, organisations and people together to transform the way we produce, consume and think about food. The Summit resulted in many concrete actions, including the establishment of the School Meals Coalition, which aims to ensure, through SMPs, that ‘every child has the opportunity to receive a healthy meal every day in school by 2030’.

The 2021 Global Nutrition Report showed that worldwide, close to 150 million children under five years of age are stunted, around 45 million are wasted and almost 39 million are overweight. Over 40% of all men and women (2.2 billion people) are now overweight or obese.

Experts agree that SMPs have a positive effect on children’s nutrition and health outcomes.

Dairy is an important component of school meals, providing key nutrients that contribute to nutrition security. Milk, cheese, and yoghurt provide essential nutrients that support optimal growth, bone health and overall health.

Milk and dairy foods have a long association with SMPs and were first recognised over a century ago for their contribution to nutritional adequacy, health, and learning. They are nutrient-rich, easy to consume, highly palatable, affordable, and often locally produced. Over 160 million children around the world currently receive and benefit from school milk.

In addition to providing milk and/or dairy products, these programmes help to foster a better understanding of dairy products, including where they come from, how dairy products are made, their nutritional composition, and how they fit into the overall diet.

Maximum benefits to the health of children and the agricultural and dairy value chains are realised as the result of the long-term implementation of school milk programmes. In this regard, programmes must be mandated and funded by governments.

Our data showed that 67% of programmes had only 1 stakeholder, usually governmental institutions such as the ministry of agriculture (50% of cases) and/or education (31%). the remaining 33% received investments from multiple stakeholders, be it governments or entities allocated by governmental bodies, actors in the dairy chain, dairy associations, or councils (with varying size and representation), or the schools themselves.

In addition, community involvement in programme organisation, implementation and advocacy is also an important component of the long-term success of these programmes. A sense of ownership of and involvement in school feeding programmes at the community level will ensure effective management of implementation at schools and promote programme sustainability. Parents and community members can be involved in a variety of activities at schools such as preparing meals, distributing school milk and other beverages to children, and monitoring all activities associated with the school feeding programme.

The dairy sector understands the role that milk and dairy foods play in supporting the health of children worldwide and shares information through the IDF School Milk Knowledge Hub and School Milk Bulletin. By partnering with organisations across all levels – from local and regional to national and global – the dairy sector can empower stakeholders to understand and incorporate policies and programmes such as SMPs to support children’s access to nutritious foods.



IDF Communications
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