Thousands of young students across Victoria will be eating SPC baked beans and drinking northern Victorian and Riverina milk for breakfast as part of a Victorian Government-sponsored deal.
The government’s School Breakfast Clubs program, which has been running since the start of the year, is operating at 500 Victorian primary schools.
Students will munch their way through more than 80 tonnes of Australian baked beans from SPC and drink about 400 000 litres of long-life milk supplied by Pactum Dairy Group from its Shepparton factory.
Pactum is a joint enterprise between a farmer consortium, ACM and Freedom Foods and processes about 100 million litres annually, largely for export to Asia.
ACM managing director Michael Auld said the 400 000 litres of milk would come from the group’s 130 suppliers, largely in northern Victoria and the southern Riverina.
“At that volume, it won’t have a major impact on our operation, but we saw it as a worthwhile project that would make a contribution to the health of the state and would be good for the industry,” Mr Auld said.
“It’s a good cause.”
He pointed out the UHT treatment would make it easier for distribution.
Education Minister James Merlino visited the Pactum factory in Shepparton to make the announcement, with the agreement to take effect from next year.
Mr Merlino said the program was designed to address the alarming statistic that one in seven Victorian children arrived at school on an empty stomach, affecting their ability to concentrate and learn.
“This is a great initiative, supporting children in need at schools right across Victoria and supporting local jobs and local dairy farmers,” he said.
“This is obviously a challenging time for the dairy industry right across Victoria and everything we can do makes a difference.”
The government partners with Foodbank, Australia’s largest welfare goods agency, to deliver the $13.7 million breakfast program using its existing warehousing, storage and freight network.
“We are thrilled to be continuing the support of local Victorian-based farmers and food producers who are helping us build this incredible program,” Foodbank Victoria chief executive officer Dave McNamara said.