Support for school milk
Many Matamata people are struggling to pay the bills in the face of rising food prices and are cutting back on everyday staples such as milk. Wintec journalism student Jason Howells asked a number of Matamata teachers and residents how important they felt
OVER the past year the average cost of living has increased 7.8 per cent with milk increasing in price by 50 per cent over the past five years. Matamata College principal Glen Roswell said many of his students were coming to school without an adequate breakfast which affected their behaviour.
‘‘I would like to see funding for a breakfast club so that students could start the day properly,’’ he said.
The Ministry of Health recommends two servings of milk per day and children may not be receiving the nine essential nutrients in milk including calcium, protein, and vitamin D, which are good for bone growth and concentration levels.
A Consumer New Zealand survey showed 87 per cent of New Zealanders had noticed an increase in the price of milk, with 91 per cent believing the price was high.
Retired Matamata dairy farmer Georgie Redshaw agreed that the price of milk was high.
‘‘There is still a market for it but not everyone can afford it,’’ she said.
Firth Primary School principal James Eldridge has already installed a programme for his school called Kick Start Breakfast, which is a nationwide charitable organisation where Fonterra supply a crate of milk per week with Sanitarium supplying Weetbix for the decile three school.
Mr Eldridge said some mornings up to 20 children came for a free breakfast.
‘‘I do applaud the idea of milk for all students though, as it is fantastic brain food,’’ he said.
New Zealand once had a similar scheme which began in the 1930s during a time of economic depression.
It provided half a pint of milk to every child to help improve bone and teeth development.
‘‘I remember having school milk back in the day and to be honest it was ever so nice to have that facility,’’ said Matamata College staff member, parent and grandparent Rangi Douglas.
‘‘I don’t remember children being lactose intolerant back then.’’
Weight loss coach and mother of three Sarah Bailey said: ‘‘If school milk was reintroduced, the Government should take into account that many New Zealanders have milk allergies, so they should also introduce soy milk and hyper-allergic formulas for those children.’’