School says no to free milk

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Not all schools are embracing a campaign to give primary students free milk, with at least one opting out of the scheme.
The Milk in Schools campaign was launched in Nelson last week by dairy giant Fonterra and aims to give kids a free carton of milk every day. But Clifton Terrace School says it wants no part of the programme because of the way the cartons are disposed of and the time it would take away from teaching and learning.
Principal Rob Wemyss says the school announced that it would not accept the milk last week and the reaction from parents has been good, with feedback only positive for the stance they’ve taken.
He says there were several reasons for the decision but the big two were the time taken out of “learning time” and the environmental impact.
“We are an enviro school so we look at our impact on our environment. Those boxes are being recycled and they’re making tiles out of them and that sort of thing, but it’s the fact there’s this big carbon footprint. After they leave here they’re shipped to Thailand and to me that’s a bit wrong. Why was there no effort to create a situation where they could be using a recyclable product here? It just seems weird.”
He says the issue was spoken about with staff, but not parents and the decision was in line with the school’s principles.
He says schools are becoming a “dumping ground” for societal issues.
“There’s a huge expectation on schools now to do things that I think should be done by parents. I think food in schools, which is a separate issue from milk in schools, is the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. The government need to consider addressing the societal issues that exist for families and whanau. What can we do to help support families when they have children?”
Rob says he isn’t sure if any other local schools have also taken their stance but wouldn’t be surprised if there were others. “I could see the positives of it but half way through the application I started questioning whether it was the right thing for us and from the feedback I’ve had so far, I’d say it isn’t.”