Milk and dairy

These standards help to make sure school food provides the right amount of protein, calcium and zinc. They also address the issue of pupils not drinking enough milk, especially at secondary school:

  • A portion of dairy food must be provided every day
  • Lower fat milk must be available for drinking at least once a day during school hours (so provision of milk at breakfast or after school clubs does not count towards this standard)

What this food group includes:

All types of milk, cheese, yoghurt (including plain or fruit, frozen and drinking yoghurt), or fromage frais, milk-based sauces, custard (made with milk), puddings made from milk.

FAQs:

The standards state that lower fat milk must be available for drinking every day. Does this mean I have to provide milk to every pupil?

Milk should be available for all pupils who want it.

Does the milk we provide at breakfast club/morning break meet the standard for drinking milk?

The standards require that lower fat or lactose reduced milk must be available for drinking at least once a day during school hours. School hours mean the core school day, so you need to provide milk for all pupils who want it as part of lunch, or during morning break or during the afternoon. Milk at breakfast or after-school club doesn’t count.

Can we charge for the drinking milk we have to provide?

Milk at lunchtime must be free to all children who are eligible for free school meals, including to children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 (who all qualify for free meals under the universal free school meals for infants programme). If you provide milk at morning break or during the afternoon, it only needs to be free to pupils whose families qualify for free school meals based on their household income.

Who is responsible? How do we fund this?

It’s your school’s statutory responsibility to make sure milk is available for all pupils who want it. Schools can use the Dedicated Schools Grant to fund milk for pupils who qualify for free school meals, including all infants. You can help to reduce your costs by taking part in the EU School Milk Subsidy Scheme.