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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » October 26, 2012
Polska... tastes good!
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A Glass of Milk
October 26, 2012   
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The growing amount of milk drunk in Poland in recent years is largely due to the success of a program whose local name is “A Glass of Milk” and to the promotion of milk among children. From the launch of the European Union’s School Milk Program, Polish children at schools and preschools have consumed more than 1.3 billion glasses of milk.

The aim of the program is to develop good nutrition habits among children and teenagers by promoting milk and dairy products. Milk and dairy products are an irreplaceable source of protein and easily absorbed calcium—an invaluable mineral essential for young bones and teeth to grow strong. They are also a source of many other microelements (potassium, phosphorus, sodium) and vitamins A, D, E and B.

The health benefits of milk and dairy products make for fit and healthy young bodies, which is why it is important to promote good nutrition habits among children and teenagers. Understanding the nutritious role of milk in our daily diet will not only teach children to consume these wholesome products but also, when they grow up, it should lessen the risk of diseases such as osteoporosis.

Ever since Poland joined the EU, the School Milk Program has been growing in popularity, especially after Poland (following the example of other EU countries, to mention Sweden, Finland, Britain and Hungary) assigned extra funding to reduce the price of milk and dairy products for pupils at preschools, primary and junior high schools.

The program encourages children to drink plain milk and flavored milk with different fat content and eat different kinds of cheese and yogurt. In the 2011/2012 school year schoolchildren most often had plain milk (about 82 percent of the total milk and dairy products consumed at schools), followed by flavored milk (about 16 percent) and yogurt and cheese (about 2 percent).

Thanks to the program, 2.4 million Polish children at about 14,500 educational institutions can drink milk and eat dairy products for free or at a reduced price.

The Agricultural Market Agency (ARR) has been implementing the Common Agricultural Policy program called “Subsidy for supplying milk and dairy products to schoolchildren” since May 2004. Under the program, the ARR distributes subsidies for milk and dairy products for schools from the EU budget. Like other EU countries, Poland has assigned funding from the national budget for this purpose too, as well as providing support from the Milk Promotion Fund in order to reduce milk and dairy product prices paid by pupils, to increase the number of schoolchildren who consume milk in the program. The national subsidy in the 2012/2013 school year will be zl.118 million.

Today “A Glass of Milk” is financed from three sources. The first is EU funds, which are earmarked for supplying milk and dairy products to all types of eligible schools, i.e. preschools, primary and junior high schools (not university-level schools) in the school year (September to June). Domestic funds (the national subsidy) come next and are used for supplying milk and dairy products to primary schools from October to May, three school days per week. The third source is the Milk Promotion Fund, which finances the supply of milk and dairy products to preschools and junior high schools during the school year within the limits set down in the fund’s financial plan.

As of the 2007/2008 school year Poland has been an EU leader in implementing the School Milk Program. The amount of milk and dairy products supplied to schools and the amount of funding that Poland receives from the EU is greater than in the countries of the “old” EU where the program has been in place for more than 20 years, such as France, Britain, Germany, Sweden and Finland.
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