School Milk Program Will Continue

School Milk Program Will ContinueSchool Milk Program Will Continue

Arrangements have been made to continue the distribution of free milk in schools from the beginning of the current academic year (starts September 23) in cooperation with the Management and Planning Organization (MPO), said Mohammad Bathaei, deputy minister of education.

Nearly $166 million has been allocated for milk distribution in schools, of which $121 million has been provided by the Organization of Targeted Subsidies and $45 million by the government.

 “This year we are better off in terms of per capita allocation of funds to schools compared to the previous school year,” ISNA quoted him as saying. He also hoped that funds for renovation of schools would be increased.

The government is determined to provide free milk to schools to improve nutritional intake of students. For this purpose, last year (ended March 20), the government paid $ 48.4 million to dairies,” he said.

In the last school year, 100,000 tons of milk (2% of the annual domestic milk production) was distributed in primary and junior high schools as well as pre-schools and orphanages across the country. Each student got 70 packets of 250 ml of milk.

“As the quality of pasteurized milk is better than sterilized milk, we are making efforts to supply the former in all big cities. Sterilized milk is distributed only in remote areas.”

Sterilization at high temperatures destroys microbes in milk, which guarantees its preservation.

“We will monitor milk distribution in schools and those violating the directive will be dealt with according to the law. Last year, we inspected 7,913 schools of which 107 had violated the rule.”

In addition to improving children’s nutritional intake the government aims to help dairy manufacturers.

The milk for school program was initially launched in Iran in mid-1975. However, it has had more than its share of disruptions ever since. The Rouhani administration re-launched it in 2013 for schools in megacities after it was started in 2011 and reportedly covered not more than 40% of the students. NGOs and social scientists have regularly voiced concern over the poor nutrition of school children, especially in the deprived regions, and pushed successive governments to undertake effective nutritional programs in schools starting with the free milk scheme.