World School Milk Day planned for 28 September
World School Milk Day is set this year for 28 September. This date was chosen because schools were open in all the countries surveyed during this month. The end of the month was selected to allow countries in the Western hemisphere sufficient time to prepare for this day, as in most of these countries the school year starts in early September. Wednesday was chosen as it was a school day in all countries surveyed.
The 1st World School Milk Day was held in 2000 and it has since become an annual event. A number of countries – regardless of whether they are large or small, rich or poor – celebrate World School Milk Day, demonstrating that the interest in school milk is universal.
The goal of World School Milk Day is to provide a particular day when attention is focused on this issue and so promote such programmes. Importance is lent to the event by the fact that other countries are doing the same thing, on the same day, and that Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is supporting the activity. FAO’s role is to co-ordinate celebrations by informing people through the Dairy-Outlook and School-Milk lists about the Day and collating information from list members regarding preparations for celebrating this Day and inspire others to join in.
How is World School Milk Day celebrated? World School Milk Day is an “open” day – people are free to celebrate how they wish. Celebrations can be at any level – from national or regional events to individual schools. Some countries have started in a small way and have organized bigger celebrations with each passing year. Big or small, all have a common goal: to draw attention to school milk and thereby promote its consumption.
In celebrating the Day, FAO’s involvement can be freely mentioned, however, this does not extend to FAO endorsing a particular branded product. At the same time, a key facet of FAO’s work on school milk has been the duel promotion of dairy industry development and good child nutrition. Therefore, branded products and promotions, which are a way of promoting the dairy industry, can be used during celebrations.
Celebrations of past years showed how creative people are in celebrating WSMD. In almost all countries celebrating the Day, free milk is distributed to children in schools. Other activities include sporting events, distribution of educational and promotional material and celebrity visits to schools, also drawing and art competitions are very popular. Often dairy companies act as sponsors of the Day and provide not only free milk but also promotional material such as t-shirts, caps, pens, posters, etc. for the children.