A trial providing milk to primary school children in Northland will be rolled out across the country, Fonterra has announced.
Following the successful trial in Northland, involving more than 10,000 children, Fonterra today launched the nationwide 'Milk for Schools' programme.
Starting in Southland in term one next year and to be progressively rolled out around the country, all schools wanting to take part should be involved by 2014.
Schools can choose to join the programme, in which each child will receive a daily serving of 180ml low-fat milk. Fonterra will also provide fridges to keep it cool.
A Fonterra spokesman refused to reveal the cost of one serving of milk for a child, but said the whole programme was expected to cost in the millions.
Northland schools already taking part in the programme will continue to do so.
There are 2000 primary schools, with 350,000 students in New Zealand.
The programme would play a "huge role" in the future health of Kiwi kids, said All Blacks captain Richie McCaw at the announcement at Auckland's Hillpark Primary School in Manurewa today.
"Milk is an important part of the diet for growing kids. It's healthy and good for growth," said the rugby player who drinks at least two litres of milk a week.
Milk should be available to all children because of its nutrition value, but consumption was dropping, said Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings.
"It's a commitment to New Zealand and our kids," he said.
"We want a healthy nation and it's future business for us as well, said Mr Spierings, who hoped those involved in the programme would become life-long milk drinkers.
Education Minister Hekia Parata congratulated Fonterra for the initiative,
"As a Government we continue to encourage business communities and other agencies to work together with our school communities to grow the momentum of raising achievement for five out of five kids,' she said.
"This is a great way to add value to our children's lives as they spend their hours getting a great education," she said.
Where and when?
- During term 2, 2013: Waikato, Bay of Plenty and parts of lower North Island invited to nominate for the programme
- Middle of term 2: All areas of the South Island expected to be receiving milk
- During term 3: All other areas, including Auckland, invited to nominate to join programme
- End of term 3: Waikato, Bay of Plenty and parts of lower North Island expected to be receiving milk
- End of term 4: Wellington and all of the lower North Island expected to be receiving milk
- End of term 1, 2014: All remaining areas, including Auckland, expected to be receiving milk