EU School Milk Subsidy Scheme

This scheme encourages the consumption of drinking milk by making it available in schools at a reduced cost to pupils. It has also an educational dimension in that it encourages a healthy way of living and sound eating habits at an early age.

About the scheme

Agri Food Policy II, DAERA, administers the scheme in Northern Ireland and delivery is provided by each of the five Education Authority regions.

A Guide to the EU School Milk Scheme in Northern Ireland gives an outline of the scheme and explains how it works. It sets out the requirements that apply to the Education Authority regions and the schools they claim for.

For many years Member States have been required under EU law to offer subsidised drinking milk and dairy products to nursery and primary schools. For this purpose an EU subsidy (currently worth about 3p per 200ml serving) was paid and Member States had the option of paying a national 'top-up' subsidy (currently worth about 0.8p per 200ml serving). Both of these subsidies were paid in Northern Ireland.

On 1 August 2017, the two EU-funded schemes that provide subsidised milk and fruit and vegetables to school children across Europe (EU School Milk Subsidy Scheme and the EU School Fruit and Vegetables Scheme) have been merged into one single scheme for the start of the 2017/18 school year.

This scheme aims to promote healthy eating habits among children, by focusing on fruit, vegetables and milk, although EU countries are also free to distribute processed products such as cheese, soup or juice derived from these basic ingredients. The distribution of the products to school is part of a wider scheme to teach children about food and farming, and the importance of a balanced diet.

From 1 August 2017 the position in Northern Ireland is:

  • the EU subsidy and the “top-up” subsidy is paid on drinking milk, flavoured milk and plain yoghurt supplied to children in primary, special and secondary schools
  • the price charged to pupils must reflect the amount of subsidy provided
  • participation by schools is at the discretion of school management
  • schools wishing to participate in the Scheme should liaise with their local Education Authority region which prepares a composite claim for all schools in its area
  • each school participating in the Scheme must display an A3 size poster in the entrance hall advertising the subsidy
  • each school participating in the Scheme must display a poster illustrating benefits of drinking milk

A template version of the poster is available at EU School Milk Subsidy School Poster.

Claims by Education Authority regions for payment must be submitted within three months of the end of the term.

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