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School Milk Scheme (SMS)

The EU School Milk Scheme has operated in Ireland since 1982 with the objective of promoting and encouraging the consumption of milk amongst school children. This involves the daily distribution of c. 189mls of drinking milk (whole milk and skimmed milk) to approximately 550 nursery, pre-school, primary and post-primary school pupils participating in the Scheme. Milk is supplied to the schools on a charged basis by their local participating dairy co-operative. To pay the cost a parental contribution applies.  The EU contribution is used to reduce this parental cost. 

The EU school milk scheme also partly supports two national schemes:

  • A statutory Urban School Meals Scheme for primary schools operated by Local Authorities and part-financed by the Department of Social Protection. Pupils are entitled to half a sandwich, a carton of milk and a piece of fruit. Around 330 primary schools avail of this scheme throughout the country.
  • A non-statutory School Meals Local Projects Scheme under which the Department of Social Protection provides funding directly to primary schools, secondary schools and local groups and voluntary organisations which operate their own school meals projects. Priority is currently given to schools which are part of the Department of Education & Skills’ initiative for disadvantaged schools, ‘Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools’ (DEIS). Funding under the School Meals Local Projects Scheme is based on a rate of payment per meal, per child, per day.

The milk and cheese components of these School Meal Schemes are eligible to receive aid under the EU School Milk Scheme at the appropriate rates.

Added 02.05.18

The School Milk component of the scheme is managed through the National Dairy Council (NDC),




 Added 02.05.18

Figure 2 shows the participating pupil numbers in the School Milk Scheme over the previous ten years.

DAFM with the NDC have commenced work to devise a new model of implementation to halt the decline and increase participation. The new model will focus on enhanced communication, new accompanying measures and the reduction of the parental contribution.