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Taipei to offer free milk in elementary schools: mayor

TAIPEI -- Taipei will provide free milk once a week to elementary school students beginning in January, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin announced Tuesday.

Hau said the city decided to launch the program to improve the calcium intake of the 125,000 students in public and private elementary schools in Taipei and give them a good source of nutrition.

A recent survey on nutrition in Taiwan found that local students do not get enough calcium in their diets, including 98 percent of boys and 99.98 percent of girls in the 10-12 age group.

Hau said he hoped the program could begin to address the problem, and added that Taipei schools will also promote physical exercise and other sports to improve students' health.

Lin Yi-hua, head of Taipei's Department of Education, said the program, which will cost an estimated NT$102.56 million (US$3.47 million) in 2014, will begin at the start of the new fiscal year to simplify purchasing and budgeting operations.

Each serving of fresh milk provided under the program will be at least 200 c.c., Lin said.

According to Lin, half of the city's schools currently provide ultra-high temperature (UHT) milk with school lunches, but those meals are paid for by parents.

It was unclear if the new program would have any effect on the type of milk provided with the school lunches.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare has recommended that elementary school students ingest around 360 c.c. of dairy products a day.

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