On the occasion of the International Children’s Day and World Milk Day celebrated on 1 June the round table “Milk and Dairy Products in the Schoolchildren’s Healthy Diet Model” was held.   

This is the second round table that has united public and private sectors with involvement of international and Ukrainian experts to actualize the problem of healthy diet with a focus on milk and dairy products by addressing the issues of nutritional value, importance of regular consumption of dairy products for maintaining health of children of different age groups, and their availability as food for daily consumption.     

Viktor Shutkevych, Assistant Director of Cooperation, welcomed the participants on behalf of the Embassy of Switzerland in Ukraine: “Switzerland supports the education reform in Ukraine, in particular through development of safe educational environment the essential part of which is providing children with healthy and quality food. Since last year Switzerland has increased funding of technical assistance projects in Ukraine tenfold. In addition, a number of humanitarian projects are implemented, including to support the milk farms affected as a result of hostilities. For 8 years Switzerland has been supporting the Ukrainian dairy sector in the effort of all stakeholders to improve milk quality and is ready to continue to provide such support”.   

The representatives of the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food, Ministry of Education and Science, State Service of Ukraine of Food Safety and Consumer Protection, as well as Dietetic Association of Ukraine and dairy sector business associations participated in the round table.   

Despite the war, the Ukrainian government  continues to work on the Strategy of School Nutrition Reform by 2027. The goal of the Strategy is to ensure diverse, balanced and quality nutrition at educational institutions which in particular contributes to social protection of vulnerable groups, developing skills which will help to make an informed choice of healthy nutrition, including as a manifestation of care of own health and mental state in critical conditions. Tetiana Skapa, Head of Division for Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases and Circulation of Drugs of the Department of Public Health of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, provided the details on the strategic goals and expected results.     

In his speech Oleh Shvets, President of the Dietetic Association of Ukraine, addressed the importance of milk and dairy products for growth and development of children. The recent studies of nutrition of urban population of Ukraine (2018-2019) indicate inadequate consumption of dairy products by children – on average 185 ml daily, and it is especially low among teenagers – only 155 ml daily, and the recommended standards require three servings a day: one serving of milk (200 ml) and/or other dairy products (for example, 125 ml of yoghurt or cottage cheese) for children aged 7-18.

Monika Niewiarowska, Senior Expert of the Polish National Support Centre for Agriculture, told about the EU School Scheme and experience of its implementation in Poland. Thus, in Poland there is a very high level of coverage by the School Scheme —87% of children from the target group are in the scheme (1-5 grades of primary school). In addition to the EU budget,  54% of the overall scheme budget come from the national budget ensuring free access to target food products within the Scheme. In the dairy component the health aspect is a priority for Poland, i.e. no added sugar in distributed products, only plain milk (0,25l pasteurized or UHT at the school’s choice), yoghurt (150g), butter milk (150g), and cottage cheese (150g). The accompanying educational activities (at least 2 in a semester) are obligatory within the EU School Scheme: visits to farms aimed at reconnecting children with agriculture; culinary workshops focusing on healthy eating habits, origins of products, and combating food waste. The educational materials, tutorials, educational movies, leaflets etc are developed for teachers, parents, and children.

In addition, during the round table the results of the children’s contests dedicated to the International Children’s Day and World Milk Day were announced.

“Only in such a multi-sectoral interaction can we formulate a vision and design of further steps towards improvement of quality and availability of milk and dairy products. We are also grateful to our partners from private companies who got united and gave the feeling of a holiday to our children in such difficult conditions, having organized the contests and awards. These events are the best international practice which, among other things, helps to raise awareness about the importance of consuming milk and dairy products for a growing child organism among children, teachers, and parents”, stressed Manon Schuppers, Director of SAFOSO AG.

The events are held by Loostdorf, Milk Alliance, Cheese Club, Molokija, Astarta-Kyiv companies in cooperation with the Ukrainian Institute of Education Development with support of Switzerland in the frame of the Swiss-Ukrainian Project “Higher Value Added Trade from the Organic and Dairy Sector in Ukraine” implemented by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL, Switzerland) in partnership with SAFOSO AG (Switzerland) www.qftp.org.