Child health advocate Chris Farrelly is thrilled dairy giant Fonterra has vowed to give free milk to 14,000 Northland children.
Early this year he had challenged Fonterra over the price of milk and yesterday the chief executive of Whangarei's Manaia PHO was in Auckland to hear Fonterra boss Theo Spierings announce the company's Milk for Schools programme.
"It's huge, absolutely wonderful. For a lot of reasons, it makes sense," Mr Farrelly said.
"This would have to be one of the most significant acts a corporate body has done for the well-being of New Zealand children. What a great Christmas gift to our children."
But back in February, Fonterra was far from a buddy in Mr Farrelly's book.
The price of milk hit headlines when he slammed the cost and called it a national outrage. Facing growing public reaction and a Government inquiry, Fonterra put a price freeze on milk.
"We were one voice, and other voices joined in. The consumers' lobby took it on, and it went from there," Mr Farrelly said of that result.
"When we started this campaign our focus was on how vital milk was for children's health and development. Milk provides essential energy, protein, fats, vitamins and minerals.
"Providing free milk to children in school will ensure that it becomes a fundamental part of all our children's diets and no longer a luxury for some."
To test the free milk scheme's logistics the dairy co-operative will launch the regional pilot in Northland, covering 110 schools, starting around March. The pilot would be monitored during 2012.
"Fonterra would welcome support from other partners for a nationwide programme, including the Government," Mr Spierings said.
He was quick to reassure people who remembered the world-leading school milk scheme that ended in 1967 that warm milk was a thing of the past.
"We don't want kids having to drink warm milk in summer like the old days, so we will look at providing refrigeration and also explore options for recycling the milk packaging."
The reintroduction of school milk after 44 years has been applauded by the medical profession, politicians, school principals and parents.
"Anything that promotes the health and well-being of children is welcome. It's a great gesture on their (Fonterra's) part," David Rogers, president of the Tai Tokerau Principals' Association, said.
Pat Newman, principal of decile two Hora Hora Primary in Whangarei, said any school that did not take up the offer would be "crazy".
Mr Spierings assured farmers they would not carry the cost of school milk. The funding would come from the dairy co-operative's business financial and profit plan.
Yesterday he also announced a Milk for Kiwis plan to make the home-grown product more affordable and more available to all New Zealanders. Fonterra was continuing to review the price of milk, he said.