“Good Habits Started Early Can Last a Lifetime “ National Dairy Council welcomes launch of New Healthy Eating Guidelines for 1-4-year olds

The National Dairy Council welcomes the recent launch by the Department of Health of the new Healthy Eating Guidelines for 1-4-year olds. Among these recommendations, three servings from the milk, yogurt and cheese shelf are recommended for this age-group each day as part of a balanced, varied diet. Servings can include 200ml of milk, a 125g pot of yogurt or two adult thumb-sized pieces of cheese.

The EU School Milk Scheme is run in Ireland by The National Dairy Council in collaboration with and funded by the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine and can play a key role in helping children to meet these recommended daily servings. The scheme is available to all primary and secondary schools.

The School Milk Scheme was recently piloted in a small number of Early Learning and Care settings as an initiative under the First 5 Strategy for babies and young children under the umbrella of Healthy Ireland and Childcare Committees Ireland.

Following the three-week intervention, 79% of staff members in the participating settings agreed that the pilot encouraged children to drink milk and 100% of respondents reported that they enjoyed using the educational resources provided. Parents also commented that they noticed their children speaking more about the process of milk production and the health benefits of milk at home.

The Pilot was evaluated by UCD School of Public Health Physiotherapy & Sports Science. Dr. Celine Murrin of UCD outlined “While 97% of children who participated in the preschool School Milk Scheme Pilot were consumers of milk and 79% drank milk on a daily basis prior to the pilot, our research indicated that 3% never consumed milk”

Caroline Gunn, Nutritionist at The National Dairy Council also commented “the research also indicated that 8% of children consume non-dairy alternatives to milk at least once per week. However, to note, consumption of almond, coconut, oat and rice alternatives are deemed “not suitable for young children”, according to the new Department of Health’s Healthy Eating Guidelines for 1-4 year olds.

Following-the pilot, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine alongside The National Dairy Council will explore the potential to expand the pilot into additional preschool settings in the coming months.

To find out more about the School Milk Scheme visit www.moocrew.ie or email schoolmilk@ndc.ie