Parents Information

The following guide gives useful information concerning the health benefits of milk, how the scheme works and a few ideas on introducing it. You also need to know that for the under fives the nursery scheme is used to recover the costs of supplying milk.

Milk for Schools ESSENTIAL GUIDE

Milk For School - Subsidy Scheme Changes

In 1996 the government removed funding from the school milk scheme, subsidies can no longer be claimed for catering milk or secondary schools. In 1993 the government had previously removed the funding for the cheese subsidy. However, subsidy can be claimed for primary and nursery school children for milk and plain yogurt.

Considering the valuable dietary benefits to young children provided by milk the continued availability of subsidy is vitally important. It is imperative that Local Education Authorities (LEAs) maximise the provision of milk in all their eligible schools.

This information seeks to remind us of the benefits of milk for school children and a simple outline of how the scheme works.


MILK is a natural food which makes an important contribution to child nutrition. As well as providing calories for energy, milk is rich in calcium for growth and bone density and a wide range of nutrients essential to child development. The value of milk has long been recognised and in the past school milk was provided free of charge in the Welfare State child health programme which operated between 1945 - 1972.

Why milk?

Milk contains a wide range of nutrients, essential for growth -
in particular energy (calories) and is a good source of protein, calcium, zinc and vitamins A, B2 (riboflavin) and B12. Milk also makes a valuable contribution to the intake of iodine, niacin and B6.


Milk is a nutrient dense food -
The amount of nutrients supplied by milk is high in relation to the calorie content. This makes milk very valuable to children whose nutrient needs are high in relation to their calorific needs.


Milk is a rich source of calcium - Milk provides 40% of the calcium in the UK diet. Children need calcium for strong bones, adequate growth and bone density. Thus children have a higher requirement for calcium than other age groups. 189ml of milk provides half the daily calcium for a child aged 4-6 years and nearly half the amount for a 7-10 year olds. Daily school milk can help towards the attainment of peak bone mass which is a strong factor in the prevention of osteoporosis in later life.


Milk is tooth kind -
Milk contains lactose which does no harm to teeth. Its wide range of nutrients include calcium necessary for on the spot repairs to damaged tooth enamel. Dentists recommend milk and milk products for good dental health


Milk is versatile at school - Children can have it chilled in a carton or a bottle. They can have it flavoured as a milk shake. It could be fresh whole milk or semi-skimmed or UHT. At school or home milk can be used in cooking a whole variety of dishes including: rice puddings, custards, savoury flans, as a base for sauces etc. the list is too extensive to go into here.


Milk the original FAST FOOD -
Milk is a quick and nutritious snack for growing children. Milk and children make natural team mates.

School milk is especially important to children from families on low income.

One child in three in Britain goes to school without breakfast.


It is vitally important that schools capitalise on the availability of a European subsidy for the exceptional food - MILK. At present only 23/25% of primary schools are offering subsidised playtime/lunch time milk for children aged 4 to 11 years. 60% of these children are under 5 years of age and benefit via the Dept. for Health’s Welfare Scheme in conjunction with the EC School Milk Subsidy Scheme. This means 90% of UK primary school children aged between 5-11 years are not being offered the opportunity to benefit from the European funding.

Every child in Europe (aged between 2.5 - 19 years) is eligible to benefit from the EC school milk subsidy scheme - this subsidy is a tangible benefit for every European family.
The scheme is discretionary. Some elements are compulsory others such as catering milk, secondary school and cheese are optional. The UK only operates on the minimum level for primary school children.


OPERATION: Under the EC School Milk Subsidy Scheme subsidised milk and plain yogurt can be supplied to primary school children in all of the UK. The scheme is operated by the Rural payments Agency based in Exeter. 

So exactly what is available?

As at Autumn 1999 the following milk/milk produce are available:

Plain/flavoured pasteurised/UHT/fresh milk (3.5% butterfat minimum)
Plain/flavoured pasteurised/UHT/fresh semi-skimmed milk (1.5-1.8% b.fat)
Plain/flavoured/unsweetened whole milk yogurt
(flavoured milk may be sterilized)

How much can a child have?

Every eligible school child is allowed up to a maximum of 0.25 litre or 0.44 pints of milk or yogurt per day. However, in the UK it is more likely that 189ml will be supplied.

Who is eligible?

Subsidised milk can be available to all school children at:

Nursery schools
Primary Schools
Some (not all) Middle Schools

Schools should fall into the following types:

Local Authority Maintained



Please see the head teacher page for this.


Useful addresses:

 The Rural Payments Agency -School Milk Section PO Box 277 Exeter EX5 1WB

Tel. 01392 266466 FAX 01392 266489 E-mail:

Dairy Council 164 Shaftsbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8HL
Tel 020 7395 4030    FAX 020 7240 9679, E-mail:

Nursery Milk: Free milk for the under fives
Welfare Foods Reimbursement Unit PO Box 31048 LONDON SW1V 2FE
Tel 020 7887 1212 FAX 020 7887 1258

Independent Schools Central Claims Unit:
Incorporated Assoc. of Preparatory Schools
11 Waterloo Place Leamington Spa CV32 5LA Tel 01962 887833 FAX 01963 888014

For information about Income Support free milk supply and free milk in Special Schools contact the Catering Dept. of your local authority for details of their supply policy.

BREAKFAST SCHEMES - An information pack
‘Breakfast Clubs: A How To Guide’ has been produced by Kelloggs and the New Policy Institute, this can be found on the web at

The New Policy Institute also publish: Fit for School - How Breakfast Clubs Meet Health, Education and Childcare Needs (Nick Donovan & Cathy Street)

New Policy Institute 109 Coppergate House 16 Brune Street London E1 7NJ