Scottish government to add plant-based milk to free nursery milk scheme – Totally Vegan Buzz

Scottish government to add plant-based milk to free nursery milk scheme

Scottish government to add plant-based milk to free nursery milk scheme
Image: Maria Symchych/Shutterstock.com

The new scheme ensures that “vegan children receive the best care, including balanced food.”

The Scottish Government has agreed to add a plant-based option to the free Nursery Milk Scheme for young children.

The Nursery Milk Scheme currently reimburses eligible childcare providers the cost of providing milk to children under 5 years of age.

The scheme, which was first established in the 1940s, entitles children under five to receive a third of a pint of cow’s milk each day, free of charge.

Now, under the new Scottish Milk and Healthy Snack scheme rolling out in August 2021, the government will also offer fortified soya milk as a dairy-free alternative to help “ensure that vegan children receive the best care, including balanced food.”

The decision follows years of campaigning by The Vegan Society, which set up the Play Fair with Plant Milk campaign in 2019 to highlight ‘the inequality surrounding the favouring of animal milk’.

According to the charity, the previous nursery milk scheme, which excluded fortified plant-milk indirectly discriminated against vegan pupils, who did not benefit from the vitamins and minerals available in fortified plant-milk.

However, now with approval from Food Standards Scotland, funding will be available for daycare providers and childminders to provide unsweetened calcium-enriched soya drinks, for children over 12 months who cannot consume cow’s milk due to medical, ethical, or religious reasons.

‘Lost out on free health benefit’

“We are often contacted by parents of young children who describe indirect discrimination they have faced due to the existing UK Nursery Milk Scheme,” Sabrina Ahmed, Campaigns and Policy Officer at The Vegan Society, said.

“Many children have lost out on this free health benefit because of their ethical beliefs, which is unfair.”

‘Great precedent’

She further added: “We’re delighted to see that the Scottish Government has now recognized this negative impact. And, that the new Scottish Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme is inclusive of those who cannot consume animal milk because of medical, religious, or other beliefs. 

“This sets a great precedent for other public health schemes to follow suit.”

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