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School Milk Programme; One of our most enduring memories

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 would normally drop the milk off at about 9.30 and recess wasn’t until 10.45 (from memory) and on a hot Adelaide summer day the milk would go off. No refrigeration was available and teacher made you drink the milk, off or not. Put my wife off milk for years.

Children at the Ethelton Primary School drinking milk made available free by the school milk programme in the early 60s.

Children at the Ethelton Primary School drinking milk made available free by the school milk programme in the 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 – 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 we had to supply our own cups and we use to have milk monitors 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; “Fond memories of the free milk for me at Cairns in the early 70s. Couldn’t wait till little lunch. Always participated in risky sports and never broken a bone in my life. They should reintroduce this at schools. Might help the dairy farmers as well. Win win”.

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 get much of a breakfast, might be a way of improving school kids general health.

What do you think?

12 Responses to School Milk Programme; One of our most enduring memories

  1. Geoff Wilson September 20, 2014 at 9:02 am #

    used to be school milco.remember every morning getting lift to school in metro milk truck.remember the tryangular cartons ..ascot pk primary school 1964

  2. Darryl Barreau October 1, 2014 at 2:33 am #

    The school milk programme put me off warm milk for life. It used to come in little glass bottles with silver foil caps and was left outside in the heat until recess. After being spotted by a milk monitor tipping out the ‘off’ milk in the drain, a teacher paraded me before her class (not mine) 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. Ah…fond memories of milk in the late 50s/early 60s at Flinders Park Primary in SA.

  3. David July 20, 2015 at 3:43 am #

    Now days some school children get served breakfast at school before school starts

  4. Deborah Hammond October 8, 2015 at 1:37 pm #

    just a quick questn. I attended campbelltown primary school in adelaide. were we served milk in sml glass milk bottles or as I remember , sml triangle cartons with straws.?

  5. Deborah Hammond October 8, 2015 at 1:37 pm #

    between 1968” 1975

    • Karl June 25, 2017 at 8:52 pm #

      Hi Deborah,
      That would have the the triangular shaped cartons you had. I was at Campbelltown Primary School too, but earlier than you. I did a stint as a milk monitor once, because the usual kid was sick.
      I also remember one time we had excess cartons, as there were quite a few absent from our classroom. I drank too many cartons that day, and got sick later on! The teacher wasn’t impressed…
      Each class had two milk monitors to carry the two-handled crate from the canteen, where they were stored outside in the weather, back to the class just before morning recess. If I recall properly, one of those kids snipped the corner of each carton with a large pair of scissors. we also had a blackboard monitor to see that the board was ready for the teacher to use every morning, tow bin monitors and a window monitor. That role was entrusted to a taller person who could yield the long stick to open and shut the upper slashes of the wooden window frames!
      And while I’m rattling on about monitors: In grade seven my class was the one closest to the head master’s office and the bell. So our class also boasted the siren monitors, and a couple flag monitors! The flag was put up every morning, and taken down again at the end of the day. God forbid if it was ever left up overnight, or if it touched the ground when it was taken down!
      Cheerful memories!

  6. doreen bruton November 30, 2015 at 9:51 am #

    I remember all those things. [I am 85].
    My first job was at Penfolds on the switchboard the same as pictured.
    I was there when Max Schultz came into office after his return from war to apply for wine maker .He become an icon.

    We have been married for 65 years on 23rd December, and been in same house for 62 years.

    We enjoy reading the Boomer pages.

    Doreen Bruton.

  7. susan July 31, 2017 at 5:17 am #

    when did thenschool close

  8. Zoz m February 7, 2018 at 11:01 pm #

    I remember growing up in western Sydney in the 70s, was in primary and yes the milk was left in the sun and all day long kids were spewing everywhere, The majic daw dust was always around and you made sure you never stepped in it , Those were the days .,

  9. phil gregory January 24, 2021 at 11:36 am #

    I remember at mobray heights primary school in the late 50’s , lots of sand covering milk vometed by the kids forced to drink warm milk , i cant drink straight milk to this day at the age of 68.

  10. Linda March 28, 2021 at 1:58 pm #

    I remember triangular cardboard milk cartons the nuns at st Anthony’s would put in fridges we loved them so cool on a hot afternoon early 70s I would say..

  11. Les May 18, 2024 at 9:46 am #

    I’m 55 and lived in Griffith NSW and we’d get our milk in plastic bags. Does anyone else remember this it was around the early 1970’s they had flavoured as well chocolate, strawberry and plain but it was first there got their choice and being a tiny kid also being born in June I’d be 4 when kids were 5 and I was lucky to get a strawberry i usually just got plain. Great times. The world today is just insane.

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