A move by Fonterra to provide free milk to all Northland primary schools next year is being welcomed by social agencies and Prime Minister John Key.
Milk will be given to 1400 pupils at 110 Northland primary schools from the start of next term, Fonterra's chief executive Theo Spierings says.
The programme will run for three terms and if it goes well it will become nationwide in 2013.
Fonterra will install fridges in schools and look at ways of recycling the packaging.
The co-operative says it would welcome support for a nationwide program from sources, including the Government.
Mr Spierings says Fonterra is continuing to review the price of milk, which has been criticised in recent times.
Federated Farmers says suppliers will bear the cost of the programme.
Key praises move
Prime Minister John Key says it is good to see Fonterra getting involved.
He says that welfare initiatives are not just the Government's responsibility.
"They are a very large corporation. Their earnings are in excess of a $11 billion a year.
"For New Zealand it's our most critical export and if they can put that back into the future of our youngsters then I think that's a win-win for everyone," he said.
The Salvation Army's Whangarei Foodbank director Pete Mullenger says children need the nutrition that milk provides and Fonterra is to be congratulated for deciding to provide them with it, free of charge.
Mr Mullenger says the foodbank was forced to halve the quantities of milk it puts in food parcels this year, purely because of the cost.