Young Comox Valley students can now receive free local milk along with free fruits and vegetables.
Government announced $1 million in provincial funding for a new milk component of the B.C. School Fruit and Vegetable Nutritional Program (SFVNP) earlier this week — and local dairy farmer and chair of the BC Dairy Association Dave Taylor is excited.
“We began working on this two years ago,” he says. “As dairy farmers, we also got involved with a (milk) processor and tried to put something together to take to government and say, ‘You know, we want this to be for the younger kids — we know that they’re not getting their milk and alternatives, they’re not meeting the required amount — and we see this as an excellent opportunity to get healthy product to them.'”
Now, the idea is becoming reality, and kindergarten to Grade 2 students will be able to access free milk during the SFVNP free fruits and vegetable deliveries, 13 times per year.
All 15 Comox Valley elementary schools are registered with the SFVNP and are eligible to receive free milk, or milk alternatives for students who can’t drink milk. Twenty-three Comox Valley schools are registered to receive fruits and vegetables through the program.
Initially launched in 2005 with 10 schools provincewide, the program has since grown to include more than 1,400 B.C. schools.
The program is designed to encourage kids to make fresh produce, and now milk, part of their regular diets and teach them how eating local food supports local economics.
Taylor points out all milk sent out to schools will be from B.C. and will be a local as possible depending on where the school’s community is.
“We have a number of dairy farms in the Comox Valley and we have our own local processing plant, (Dairyland), which is great, so truly we are local right here in the Comox Valley,” he adds.
The BC Dairy Association will help fund the program with the Province, and Taylor says the funding will be well worth the return.
“Just like the fruit and vegetables, it’s healthy foods going to our kids,” he says. “So we’re excited and I think it will be excellent for kids in our province.”
For more information about the program, visit www.sfvnp.ca.