School Milk: 1960s

Monday Memoir BadgeLinda Stewart

South Africa followed the Milk in Schools programme of the 1950/1960s and there will be many readers with similar memories.

The subsidised school milk programme was introduced to help us grow up healthy and strong.  Every complaint (there were many) was met with a stern reminder of the benefit to bones, brains and teeth and with that the demand that we drink up.  Subsidised milk was a part of every South African pupil’s morning break.

At the beginning of each term a number of monitors were appointed by the teachers; class, blackboard, library, swimming, homework, PE and milk monitors.  It was the milk monitors’ task to collect crates of milk from the school gate and allocate the correct number to each class.  In summer the crates were left in the corridor until recess.  In winter they were stacked next to the class radiator.  Either way the milk was warm.

Disgusting was a familiar exclamation at recess but there was no shying away from our daily dose.  The small bottles (1/3 pint volume) originally had cardboard tops with perforations in the centre through which we pushed our paper straws.  Suck too hard and the straw top became soggy, take too long and the straw collapsed or the glue gave way and the straw disintegrated.  On the frequent occasions milk curdled it was hard work sucking the solidified globules through the straw.

After recess the milk monitors gathered the crates of empty bottles and rinsed them out before placing them at the school gate.   There is always a good with the not so good and the happy memory is how we used the cardboard milk tops as the base for pom-poms which were the perfect size for our small hands.


4 thoughts on “School Milk: 1960s

  1. We had the school milk programme in Australia too, Linda. I always loved milk, though lots of other kids hated it. When it was first introduced, there were no bottles, and the milk came in a large urn. We all had to take a plastic cup to school to receive our allowance. Later, it was, like yours, in 1/3rd pint bottles.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fortunately I wasn’t put off milk from that experience as so many were. I notice in some parts of the world milk in schools is making a come back and in South Africa it seems like the motivation is to promote the dairy industry although there will be benefits for health too.

      Liked by 1 person

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