Scottish Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme launches
By Lucy Ashton
A scheme to provide children in eligible pre-school settings with milk and a portion of fruit or vegetables starts on 1 August.
The Scottish Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme replaces the UK Nursery Milk Scheme, making more healthy produce available for more children.
All pre-schoolers who spend two hours or more a day in eligible childcare settings registered with the scheme will be entitled to a serving of fresh milk.
Unlike the UK scheme, a piece of fruit or portion of vegetables will also be offered and children who cannot drink cow’s milk for medical, ethical or religious reasons will be offered a specified non-dairy alternative.
More than 3,000 childcare settings and over 116,000 children are already signed up to the new scheme and it is anticipated that more will register to benefit in year one. The Scottish Government is expected to provide around £9 million to £12 million funding to local authorities, depending on uptake, to administer the scheme in the first year.
Eligible settings who register will receive up-front payments via their local authority.
Children’s Minister Clare Haughey, pictured right, said: “We know that diet impacts on children’s health and their ability to learn. This scheme not only provides eligible pre-school children in Scotland with access to excellent sources of nutrition but we hope it will set up healthy eating habits for life.
“With this expanded and improved offer, the Scottish Government has gone further than the UK scheme. Working in partnership with COSLA and other key partners, we are investing in children’s outcomes, providing increased money up-front, and offering a wider range of healthy produce while supporting our vital Scottish food and drink sector.”
COSLA Children and Young People spokesperson Councillor Stephen McCabe said: “The provision of milk and healthy snacks to children is an important part of ensuring that they can get the best from their learning and contributes to their overall health and wellbeing. The scheme will provide for children at a crucial stage in their development and we have worked in partnership to ensure that as many children as possible benefit.”
Meanwhile, in the most recent full year costing, the Scottish Government met the £3.15 million cost of the UK Nursery Milk Scheme in Scotland.
The Scottish Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme is available to all pre-school children in eligible registered childcare settings, expanding on the UK scheme, which was only available to children aged four and under.