World School Milk Day 2013
Today we celebrate the 14th World School Milk Day! Every year since 2000 events are held in over 25 countries on the last Wednesday in September to raise awareness of school milk programmes. Students in schools around the world will be involved in a variety of activities to highlight the health benefits of milk.
On the FAO World School Milk web page we learn that World School Milk Day is an "open" day, and people are free to celebrate how they wish. Celebrations can be at any level - from national or regional events to individual schools. Some countries have started in a small way and have organized bigger celebrations with each passing year. Big or small, all have a common goal: to draw attention to school milk and thereby promote its consumption.
Celebrations of past years showed how creative people are in celebrating WSMD. In almost all countries celebrating the Day, free milk is distributed to children in schools. Other activities include sporting events, distribution of educational and promotional material and celebrity visits to schools; also drawing and art competitions are very popular. Often dairy companies act as sponsors of the Day and provide not only free milk but also promotional material such as t-shirts, caps, pens, posters, etc. for the children.
On the Jamie Oliver blog (the chef known from TV, who has worked hard to improve school-childrens’ diets) the importance of milk in schools is highlighted:
“Now, I’m not talking about celebrating the flavoured, sugar-laden, coloured milk that Jamie has campaigned hard to remove from schools in the US. I’m talking about the hearty white stuff, the staple we all know and love as a great, healthy alternative to many other drinks.
Milk is most famous for the calcium it contains, which helps keep our bones and teeth strong and healthy. Skimmed, semi-skimmed and whole milk each provide varying fat contents, but they all provide around the same amount of calcium. However, it’s recommended that children between the ages of one and two have whole milk, because it contains more vitamin A and calories – which is essential because they have huge energy requirements. From two years onwards semi-skimmed milk can be slowly introduced.
A small glass of semi-skimmed milk (around 200ml) provides less than 100 calories, so it’s a great drink to hydrate with and a better option than fizzy drinks loaded with added sugar, which can lead to tooth decay. You don’t have to have it on its own either – I love milk in homemade fruit smoothies and this is always a great way to get fruit and a serving of milk in, especially at breakfast.”
Some examples of celebration activities around the world:
In Finland the Milk & Health web site recommends three glasses of milk per day:
Read about Fonterra’s milk for Schools programme
In the UK the World School Milk Day is sponsored by Cool Milk. On their web site you can read about why school milk is great.
SUDIA, South East Dairy in the USA shares a tip sheet for activities that can be done to celebrate, for instance to dress in black and white, invite a dairy farmer to school, host a milk moustache photo shoot, set up a breakfast picnic, design funny things from milk cartons and much more.
The Breakfast project from Got Milk? has a Little Morning Moustache that can be printed out and placed on the straw in your milk glass.
The Midwest Dairy Association is running a milk moustache photo contest today.
In many parts of the world, children come to school with empty stomachs. They may miss their morning meal, not get enough of the right things to eat, or be required to work before school. As a result, they come to school with little energy to concentrate or participate in classes. These hungry children are more prone to low performance, to be absent from school, to fall sick and to drop out. School feeding improves the health of school children and encourages poor families to send their children to school.
Tetra Pak works with School Feeding Programmes through their Food for Development Office. Read more about School Milk and Health on their web site.
Here you can see a summary of activities from World School Milk Day 2012
FAO has long-established networks to share information on all aspects of school milk: one deals specifically with school milk, while the other covers the dairy industry in general, including school milk.
FAO has co-operated with national organisations to present a series of regional and international conferences on the provision of milk to school-aged children. The focus is on providing a forum for the exchange of information and experiences between professionals working with school milk programmes.
FAO School Milk web page