Remember Free Milk at School

Back in the 1950s the Australian Government introduced a scheme for school children to receive free milk. I think the idea was that it would ensure that all Australian children would be getting fresh milk and a good dose of calcium each day.

The idea might have been fine but in practice there were a few problems. The truck delivering the crates of milk to our school would normally drop it off at about 9.30am and recess wasn’t until 10.45 (from memory). So on a hot Australian summer’s day, the milk would go off. No refrigeration was available and yet the teachers made you drink the milk, off or not. Put my wife off milk for years.

I’ve posted on this topic on the Australian Remember When Facebook page in the past and its created great debate with lots of comments from readers.

Primary school children drinking milk made available free by the school milk programme in the early 60s.

Darryl Barreau wrote “After being spotted by a milk monitor tipping out the “off” milk in the drain, a teacher paraded me before her class (not my own) each morning and whacked the back of my legs with a ruler. That went on for 4 or 5 days trying to get me to apologise, until I told my parents and Dad had a little chat with the Headmaster. Ahh, not so fond memories of milk in the late 50s/early 60s.”

Some of our posters recalled the scheme had also been introduced in England; “I recall the rich(ish) kids at our school bringing chocolate powder to mix with their milk. I was promoted to milk monitor but was sacked after one day for locking the other monitor in the milk shed. And Maggie Thatcher axed the milk scheme for the over 7 year olds in England in ’71 to save money. The press at the time labeled her ˜Maggie Thatcher the Milk Snatcher”

Another remembered; “lining up to accept the sunny boy type contained milk!! I often still remember that smell, I would run to the back of the line continuously until they were all gone!!!”

One poster had happy memories; “I remember this, but our milk was frozen and was always fresh and we had to supply our own cups. On a hot day our milk thawed out and was still fresh. During winter our milk was put in a fridge that some parents donated to the school so our milk was just right for drinking. In the end we used the fridge during summer time as well and didn’t have frozen milk anymore”!

And to prove it wasn’t all bad, yet another person remembered; “I have some very fond memories of the free milk for me at Cairns in the early 70s. Couldn’t wait till little lunch. Always participated in risky

Not everyone hated free milk at school.

sports and never broken a bone in my life. They should reintroduce this at schools. Might help the dairy farmers as well. Win-win”.

I must admit I was never a big fan during those school years but fortunately it never put me off milk as an adult. My wife gags at the sight of me skulling a big glass of milk, she was put off milk forever by the “Free Milk for Schools Program”

The free school milk scheme lasted until the early 70’s and was scrapped.

Interesting thought by our last poster suggesting it should be re-introduced today. It would certainly be a big help to the local dairy farmers and I believe there are a lot of kids who don’t t get much of a breakfast, might be a way of improving school kids general health.

What are your memories of school milk?

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  1. Like Bob’s wife, still to this day, 60 years on, I gag at trying to drink milk without some form of flavouring. I also remember around that time you could buy straws which had a strip with favouring inside, that could convert your milk to strawberry or chocolate flavour.

  2. Unbelievable. I’m 62 and often left home with no breakfast. I so looked forward to that warm milk at recess time. It filled my tummy but more importantly to me, because it was warm and comforting it was like loving warm arms around me that I wasn’t getting at home.
    Now, the biggest bonus is, as an older woman I have strong bones and good calcium levels and feel strong for my age and I put it all down to drinking that quart of milk 5 times a week for many years at school. We were so lucky back then. I don’t understand why people don’t appreciate the gift we were given back then, so many just grumble.
    Some are saying we baby-boomers will live longer than any generation? Unprocessed fresh food, compulsory physical education at school, playing in the streets on weekends, using our own imaginations for developing activities to occupy our minds. Other than the occasional mixed bag of lollies/single cone Amscol icecream or sometimes going to the ‘pictures’ or ‘City Baths’ I never recall needing money for much. I don’t ever recall saying, “I’m bored”. Free fruit from the neighborhood trees, catching tadpoles in creeks, going on all day adventures until tea time, helping local old people for a ‘bob for a job’, walking lost dogs home miles away, setting up ‘shops’ in front of our houses with goodies we had made, making backyard cubby houses and go-carts on our own!!!
    Happy days people, we were so lucky. Don’t go old and grumpy. Stay happy and wrinkley. W x

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