Another September has ended, and with it, School Milk Day, a celebration of dairy in schools worldwide. Since its launch in 2000, World School Milk Day has grown to become an event that is celebrated in over 40 different countries around the world. This year, events ranged from contests and sporting events, to campaigns to inspire children to healthy eating. In Canada, Natalie Spooner, an Olympic champion hockey player, was on hand in Ontario to remind students, “Consuming a healthy, well balanced diet was necessary for me at a very early age and allowed me to train effectively in sports and remain focused on school.”
In Indonesia, fun games and in-school celebrations were held about free school milk, along with nutrition education.
In the UK, children were encouraged to video their milkshake moves at school by Dairy UK and the Dairy Council. Schools were also invited to get involved in the celebrations by designing a backdrop for the video or a display for the classroom wall. Other activities included downloading a presentation from The Dairy Council’s website about the benefits of milk; holding a pop quiz or competition in class; or making milkshakes.
All this play and fun has a very serious purpose, however. Primary-aged children require lots of nutrients and energy from food and drink to ensure adequate growth and development, and a carton of semi-skimmed milk can provide 42-52% of 4-10 year olds recommended daily intake for calcium and 24-35% of their recommended protein intake. Iodine is also found in milk, and a glass provides children with about 52-57% of their recommended intake.
Erica Hocking, senior nutrition scientist at The Dairy Council, says, “Research shows that milk consumption may have a beneficial effect on growth and body weight in children. Schools have a key role to play in encouraging children to replace sugary drinks with milk or water.”