Thursday, December 13, 2012

Milk in schools: saving the government's butt

News today that Fonterra is extending its milk in schools programme to all schools, with the lucky recipients getting 180ml per day of low-fat milk. This is very kind of Fonterra - sort of - but really throws into sharp relief the government's own lacklustre performance in dealing with hungry children. That is, they haven't.
The Herald's article contains this snippet:

Education Minister Hekia Parata congratulated Fonterra for the initiative. "As a Government we continue to encourage business communities and other agencies to work together with our school communities to grow the momentum of raising achievement for five out of five kids,' she said. "This is a great way to add value to our children's lives as they spend their hours getting a great education," she said.

Ms Parata's full press release is here.
We think this is what she meant to say:
Education Minister Hekia Parata welcomes Fonterra’s nationwide ‘Milk for Schools’ rollout to all New Zealand primary schools today.

“I congratulate Fonterra and its Federated Farmers owners for this great initiative. As a Government effectively operating as a subsidiary of Fed Farmers we are relieved they are helping us to work together with our school communities to grow the momentum of raising achievement for five out of five kids. This helps distract from our own inaction,” says Ms Parata.

“It is exciting to see the Fonterra pilot programme at Northland primary schools has had huge success, and at so little cost to central government. This is a great way to add value to our children’s lives and to Fonterra's future marketing and brand recognition strategy. Well done Fonterra.”

The programme will operate on an ‘opt-in’ basis for interested primary schools. Schools opting in will receive a daily serving of 180ml of low-fat milk for each participating child each day. Fonterra will also provide fridges to keep it cool and an associated recycling programme.

In addition, the Government provides a fruit in schools scheme, even though it desperately tried to terminate it a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, officials pointed out it was the only fruit many children were getting, and culling this programme would have been a Really Bad Look. Even for a National government. All decile one and two primary and intermediate schools are able to opt into Fruit in Schools, and we are comfortable with the fact it does not in any way shape or form compete with Fonterra's product or market sector. Around 480 Decile 1 and 2 schools currently participate, seeing around 96,806 children receiving one piece of fruit per day. Make the most of it, you kids, you won't be getting anything else any time soon.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett also applauds Fonterra.

"As we move to make receipt of the one piece of fruit per day conditional on the child's parents or parent working full-time, we hope the Fonterra programme will fill an already huge gap. Thank you for saving our butts, Fonterra. Who said philanthropy doesn't work?"