Argyll and Bute Council has approved a proposal to provide free milk for all pupils in the area’s primary schools.
The decision comes ahead of the roll out of free school meals in primaries from August 2021 and the adoption of new Healthy Food in Schools Guidance in April.
A 10p charge was originally introduced in 2015 for all pupils who paid for a school meal with milk, the aim being to offset the higher than average purchase costs the Council paid for providing milk in schools.
In 2017, the charge was extended to cover all primary school pupils whether they were having a free or paid meal although milk-based desserts were provided to ensure that pupils were able to receive their required calcium intake from school meals.
The plan to remove the charge will not only deliver nutritional benefits for Argyll and Bute’s youngsters but will also assist families who may be experiencing financial hardship as a result of the impact of the pandemic.
In addition, education and catering staff will no longer be required to count, cash, bank and record 10p payments from parents, which can be a time consuming process.
Councillor Alastair Redman, Policy Lead, Business, Regeneration and Commercial Development:
“In light of recent Government policy changes it’s clear that removing this small charge for milk in our schools will potentially have a number of benefits, most importantly to the health and wellbeing of our young people.
“Providing milk free of charge will assist the wider aim of improving nutrition for our young people in line with the new Healthy Food in Schools Guidance and will also assist families at a time when many people are facing financial challenges.
“The small loss of income for the Council which will result from this move is far outweighed by the benefits we would expect to see which also include saving time for staff in our schools on administering the charge and a possible boost for milk contractors and farming communities as milk consumption increases.”