In just eight years, the school feeding programme in Poland has expanded to reach more than 1 million children in 10,000 schools with milk in Tetra Pak packages.
School milk was first introduced in Poland in 2004, and Tetra Pak has been involved in supporting the school feeding programme since 2008. From the start of our involvement, there has been a strong emphasis on promoting the benefits of nutrition in schools and encouraging even more schools to get involved. As a result, says Account Manager Magdalena Bednarek, “The school feeding programme using Tetra Pak packages is now one of the best known in Polish schools. People love it because it’s useful – but also because of its educational impact.”
Pupils at the elementary schools participating in the programme are eligible for free milk, three times per week. The programme is funded by six large Polish dairies and a strong network of 60 distributors that ensures milk can reach even remote rural areas. The cost of the milk is subsidised by the Polish government. Tetra Pak works closely with the Polish Milk Chamber, particularly on promotional activities, and with the Agricultural Market Agency, which is responsible for administering EU and domestic subsidies.
Today, more than 10,000 schools are covered by the programme and 1 million children drink their milk from Tetra Brik® Aseptic packages. But there is more to the programme than providing access to nutritious drinks. Promotional activities are based on the antics of four engaging cartoon characters, which act as positive role models by focusing on environmental and ecological issues, and adopting healthy lifestyle choices such as sport and cooking healthy meals.
Children can learn more about all these issues online and Tetra Pak has also developed lesson packs for teachers. Promotional items such as T-shirts, stickers, magnets and pencil boxes are given a new look each season, and there is also an annual outdoor picnic. These events, held on Children’s Day, are organized in partnership with dairy producers and include educational workshops and activities – such as cooking, or picking up litter – as well as opportunities to play and try different milk products.
“We work hard to attract and maintain children’s interest by making sure all our materials are colourful, eye-catching and good quality,” says Magdalena. “We want children to think about milk as something really positive – a drink that’s both really tasty and really good for them.”
Each year, more schools join the programme. The Polish government is still subsidising the programme, having seen the benefits to children’s development. “The best measurement we have is the level of interest in the programme,” says Magdalena. “It’s growing all the time. We know too that children are interested in finding out more about healthy lifestyles because we are constantly being asked for more educational activities.
“The feedback we get is very positive. We also measure the impact of specific initiatives – for example, during our recent ecological competition in Bialystok, schoolchildren collected more than 30 tonnes of carton packages in a very short time. That’s a brilliant way for them to learn about recycling.”
Since the school feeding programme began, there has also been a significant upturn in milk consumption generally in Poland, from 173 litres per person in 2005 to 192 litres per person in 2012.
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