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Minister Coughlan launches New School Milk Scheme - Refrigeration units for 1,000 schools

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan TD, today launched a new School Milk Scheme.

The new Scheme will broaden the range of milk products available to include flavoured milk, low-fat and fortified options. The Scheme will also involve improved packaging with new designs.

Minister Coughlan recognises that children want a chilled, fresh product and, to that end, she is offering 1,000 schools, participating in the Scheme, a refrigeration unit free of charge for school milk. The fridges will be available to all primary schools who sign up for the Scheme and replacement fridges will be provided to existing participating schools where necessary.

The School Milk Scheme, which is funded by the EU and National Exchequer, has operated in Ireland since 1982 with the objective of promoting and encouraging the consumption of milk among school children. While usage of the Scheme has declined in recent years, Minister Coughlan is confident that the new revitalised Scheme will reverse this trend.

Minister Coughlan acknowledged the commitment shown by the Irish dairy industry in supplying school milk for the past 24 years and the important role they are now playing in revitalising this Scheme. The National Dairy Council has also contributed significantly to the Scheme and Milky McDrop will soon become a familiar character to school children availing of the Scheme. Documentation and material on the Scheme, and featuring the NDC's Milky McDrop character, has been circulated to all primary school principals highlighting the nutritional and health benefits of milk in the diet of children.

Recognising that we are now much more focused on the importance of healthy eating, exercise and diet for our children. The Minister said that "milk can provide approximately one-third of a child's recommended daily dairy intake. I am particularly pleased to be associated with this Scheme and I would encourage teachers and parents to take full advantage of this enhanced School Milk Scheme for the benefit of our children".

30 August 2006

Date Released: 30 August 2006