Northland community leaders gathered at Manaia View School in Whangarei this morning to celebrate the first day of the Fonterra Milk for Schools programme.
Leanne Otene, Principal of Manaia View, says the school wanted to recognise today as an important milestone for Northland children and the Northland community alike.
"Today is very exciting for all of us. When it comes to our kids, improving their nutrition is an absolute priority and it's wonderful to be able to offer students a serving of milk every school day," says Ms Otene.
Manaia View is one of more than 100 Northland schools that dished out milk to around 10,000 children today - a move that Chris Farrelly, CEO of Manaia Health, sees as a game-changer for the wellbeing of New Zealand children.
"Milk is vital for development, providing essential energy, protein, fats, vitamins and minerals. Providing free milk to children in school will ensure that it becomes a fundamental part of our children's diets," says Mr Farrelly.
"Fonterra's effort to ensure our kids are getting the milk nutrition they need is one that will significantly impact not only our children, but our whole community, in a positive way."
Fonterra Co-operative announced the Fonterra Milk for Schools programme late last year and has since been working with Northland schools and communities to set up the pilot in a way that makes it as easy as possible for schools to participate.
The Co-op will monitor the pilot for the first three terms, with the intention of rolling it out nationwide in 2013, says Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings.
"Our motivation is to get more Kiwis drinking more milk, and this starts with our kids.
"Milk is without a doubt, one of the most nutritious foods there is and as leaders in dairy nutrition, we want to do what we can to make it more accessible to New Zealanders," says Mr Spierings.
Fonterra is still accepting registrations for the pilot. To find out more or register a school please visit www.fonterramilkforschools.com.