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Dairy Council

School Milk

Many schools in Northern Ireland provide milk through the School Milk scheme. In fact, recent statistics show that 55% of primary and special education schools make milk available for their pupils.

The programme encourages school children to consume dairy products as part of a balanced diet, and plays an important educational role by encouraging the adoption of healthy eating patterns.

Through the scheme, subsidies are provided to primary schools so that milk and milk products can be provided to children at a reduced cost. 

Parents make a contribution towards the cost which varies between each Education Authority region, but on average, the 189ml carton of milk costs around 20p… fantastic value when you consider the benefits it can provide!

For younger children, the Day Care Foods Scheme enables children under five to receive, free of charge, 189ml of milk each day they attend approved day care facilities for two hours or more.

DHSSPS is responsible for the legislation governing the scheme. The Business Services Organisation (BSO) administrates the scheme on the Department’s behalf.

It has been confirmed that the School Milk Scheme (previously the EU School Milk Scheme) will continue, with funding in place to allow the Scheme to operate until at least the end of 2023/2024.

Great Value

JUST 20P PER 189ML
CARTON OF MILK

Free Milk

FOR ALL CHILDREN
UNDER THE AGE OF 5
AT NURSERY SCHOOL

55%

OF PRIMARY SCHOOLS IN
NI HAVE MILK AVAILABLE

Great Value

JUST 20P PER 189ML
CARTON OF MILK

Free Milk

FOR ALL CHILDREN
UNDER THE AGE OF 5
AT NURSERY SCHOOL

55%

OF PRIMARY SCHOOLS IN
NI HAVE MILK AVAILABLE

World School Milk Day

In 2000, the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations) declared the last Wednesday of September each year to be World School Milk Day - an international day to recognise and celebrate the nutrition and health benefits of school milk programmes across the globe.

Benefits of milk in school

The benefits of providing primary school children with mid–morning milk are plentiful.

Mid–morning milk is a powerful boost to meeting children’s nutrient needs; a carton of school milk will provide more than half a five year old child’s calcium, phosphorus and vitamin B2 requirements and a third of their protein needs.

Milk is a good breaktime choice for children’s teeth… milk and water are recommended by dentists as the best choices between meals.

Breaktime milk is also a good source of fluid to help beat thirst and keep children well hydrated

Having milk available in school can develop the milk drinking habit. Most children will already have access to milk at home, so it is a natural extension to drink milk in school too.

The table below shows the percentage of a primary school child’s nutrient needs* provided by a carton (189ml) of semi–skimmed milk 

Nutrient

  • Vitamin B2

  • Vitamin B12

  • Calcium

  • Phosphorus

  • Iodine

  • Protein

4–6 years

  • 59%

  • 100%+

  • 52%

  • 52%

  • 28%

  • 34%

7–10 years

  • 47%

  • 100%+

  • 43%

  • 41%

  • 15%

  • 24%

* Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI)

How to participate in the scheme

Schools wishing to participate in the school milk scheme should get in touch with the Education Authority (EA) in their region who will provide further information. Contact details for the EA Regional Offices can be found below:

Belfast Region 

  • 40 Academy Street 
    Belfast
    BT1 2NQ

  • Telephone: 028 9056 4000

North–Eastern Region 

  • County Hall
    182 Galgorm Road
    Ballymena
    Co Antrim
    BT42 1HN

  • Telephone: 028 2565 3333

South–Eastern Region 

  • Grahamsbridge Road
    Dundonald
    Belfast
    BT16 2HS

  • Telephone: 028 9056 6200

Southern Region 

  • 3 Charlemont Place
    Armagh
    The Mall
    BT61 9AX

  • Telephone: 028 3751 2200

Western Region

  • 1 Hospital Road
    Omagh
    Co. Tyrone
    BT79 0AW

  • Telephone: 028 8241 1411

Parents who are interested in getting breaktime milk for their child should ask their school for further information. 

For information on the Day Care Food Scheme which provides free milk for children under five who are in an approved day care settings, please click here.

For more information on the benefits of mid–morning milk download the Milk and More booklet.