Tetra Pak celebrates World School Milk Day with news that an increasing number of governments and international development organisations are using school feeding programmes to develop the dairy industry and drive economic growth in addition to improving nutrition and educational outcomes.
In Tetra Pak’s discussions with governments, development agencies and NGOs, more and more now raise economic development potential as an important consideration when assessing the merit of introducing a school feeding programme.
“In providing a guaranteed source of demand to local dairies, school feeding programmes encourage investment, expansion and economic growth in underdeveloped rural communities,” said Ulla Holm, who heads Tetra Pak’s Food for Development Office (FfDO).
Among the examples of recent success she notes the following:
- Chinese state-sponsored school milk projects have helped increase farming efficiency, boosting milk production by almost 50 per cent.
- A Kenyan government programme aims to recreate the success of a previous school feeding initiative that increased production of liquid dairy products by 150 per cent.
- A Sudanese school milk programme set up by the leading local dairy processor, creates daily incomes for 250 small holder farmers.
Through its Food for Development Office and network, Tetra Pak cooperates closely with governments, development agencies, NGOs, local dairy processors and farmers to support school milk programmes and dairy industry development. In 2011 6.7 billion packages of milk and other nutritious drinks in Tetra Pak packages were provided to 50.8 million children in schools in over 50 countries, up from 48.8 million children in 2010.
Tetra Pak and the FfDO supported several new school milk programmes in 2012. Among them are:
- A nation-wide programme in Turkey reaching more than seven million children
- A programme in Mumbai for 450,000 children in 1,200 schools
- Programmes in Ukraine and Uzbekistan, each reaching just more than 1,000 children
“Tetra Pak is committed to bring fresh, nutritious and safe foods to children,” said Holm. “Working with governments around the world, we are also helping to ensure that feeding programmes act as powerful catalysts to build local dairy industry capacity, creating new and lasting opportunities for prosperity across whole communities,” she said.
Programme success stories
- China: Tetra Pak China is involved in one of the world’s largest school feeding programmes. Begun in 2000, it now encompasses 8.4 million children. School milk programmes help to build domestic dairy capacity by using only locally produced, processed and packed milk. In introducing better farming practice and management, efficiencies are being realised that saw cattle numbers remain stable between 2005 and 2009 while production of liquid dairy products grew by nearly 50 per cent during that period, from around 11 billion tons to over 16 billion tons.
- Kenya: A school milk programme that ran from 1979 to 1998 reached 4.3 million Kenyan children, helped to increase classroom attendance, grew dairy herd sizes and increased production of liquid dairy products from 1 million tons to 2.5 million tons during that period. Since it ended, however, milk consumption has fallen and dairy industry jobs lost. To address this, Tetra Pak is working with the government on a school milk programme to reinvigorate the industry. It has grown to include around 80,000 children with plans for further expansion.
- Sudan: During 2011 Tetra Pak supported the leading dairy processor in Sudan to initiate a pilot school milk programme reaching children in rural areas around Khartoum. To secure access to locally produced quality milk, the dairy is linked to 250 small holder farmers that are guaranteed a daily income. Farmers are paid in part with high quality animal feed. This improves the quality and increases the quantity of the locally produced milk and helps the farmers to build increasingly healthy herds. The 60,000 litres of milk produced per day are helping to give children a better start in life: A study has found that school milk is boosting IQ by 20 per cent and cutting school absence rates from 60 per cent to zero.