Free Milk for 14m Students

Free Milk for 14m StudentsFree Milk for 14m Students

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) comprising minor physical disabilities and calcium deficiency are health concerns among students according to Iranian studies.

The issue prompted government authorities to take measures to improve the health of students through effective nutritional programs in schools starting with the free milk scheme.

Milk distribution in schools which was first launched in Iran in the mid-1970s, however saw several disruptions over the years. The program resumed in 2011 but covered not more than 40% of the students, and mostly in the deprived regions.

The Rouhani government re-launched the program in 2013 bringing all schools in the major metropolises under its coverage.

Mansour Mojaveri, head of the Education Ministry’s National Committee for Supply and Distribution of milk to schools, said 14.5 million students would be provided milk in the new school year starting September,” IRNA reported.

 “The plan aims to provide continual nutrition to students.”During the last three years, the number of milk packets distributed to students increased from 360 million (250 ml) packets in 2012 to 800 million (250 ml) packets in 2015.

 “This year, we have planned to distribute 800 million packets to nearly 14.5 million students in 105,000 schools across the country. Each student will receive 55 packets of milk over the academic year,” he added.  

Last year, the budget for the scheme was $174 million. Half the budget has been allocated and “therefore we still owe dairies about $87 million.”

“We are waiting to receive the balance amount from the Targeted Subsidies Organization. Only after clearing the debts, we can place orders for the upcoming school year,” he added.

 Vitamin-D Fortified Milk

In the previous year, 175 dairies provided milk to the schools and 25 provinces received vitamin-D fortified milk.

“Iranians have vitamin D deficiency and it is crucial to supply school kids with enriched milk,” Mojaveri said.

Pointing to the importance of proper nutrition for a child’s development, he said a malnourished child will not reach his or her full mental and physical development.

Milk and dairy products contain many nutrients and provide a quick and easy way of supplying these nutrients to the diet within relatively few calories.

The products provide calcium, which is essential for bone growth and development and contrary to popular belief research has shown that people who consume milk and dairy foods are likely to be slimmer than those who do not.

Studies have it that diets containing milk and dairy products may significantly reduce the risk of certain cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and type 2 diabetes.

The annual per capita consumption of milk and dairy products in Iran is less than 70 kg as against the global per capita consumption of more than 300 kg.