MILK IN SCHOOLS
Free Milk Every Morning!
Young New Zealanders once lined up for a free bottle of milk at school every morning. This scheme was introduced in 1937 to help children who had become undernourished during the Depression. It was also enthusiastically supported by famous dramatist George Bernard Shaw when he visited this country in 1934. And so, for the next 30 years school children sat down for their daily half-pint. Crates of bottles were carried into the classroom by official milk monitors, who were also responsible for collecting up the empties after the session. Occasionally, an older amber glass bottle would arrive with the morning delivery and prove an attraction for keen consumers.
School milk bottles in the 1950s had cardboard tops which had a small hole for the straw, and were often put to further use. Lengths of colourful wool were wound tightly around a pair of these cardboard discs to produce a decorative pom-pom.
In the 1960s, 3,500,000 gallons of milk was distributed to the schools of New Zealand each year, but the value of the scheme was now being questioned. There were mixed views on the matter; some felt it had become unnecessary and was a disruption to the class, while others claimed that a number of New Zealand children still came to school without an adequate breakfast. Nevertheless, in 1967 the scheme was abolished, and so the country’s milk monitors became redundant.