Scottish Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme – Implementation and Operations Group Summary minutes: December 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 13 December 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • Phil Alcock, Scottish Government (chair)
  • Steven Fogg, Scottish Government (SG)
  • Elizabeth Muir, Scottish Government (SG)
  • Lucy Tait, Scottish Government (SG)
  • Matthew Sweeney, COSLA
  • Joanna Anderson, COSLA
  • Lesley Gibb, ADES Early Years Network
  • Gary Greenhorn, ADES Resources Network
  • Chris Hogg, School and Nursery Milk Alliance (SNMA)
  • Calum McQueen, McQueens Dairies
  • Mary Ramsay, Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA)
  • Jane Malcolm, National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA)
  • Nicola Howie, Scotland Excel
  • Christine Boyle, ASSIST


  • Robin Maclean, Scottish Government
  • Kirsten Maguire, Scottish Government

Items and actions

Welcome, introductions and apologies

The Chair welcomed Christine Boyle from ASSIST and Lucy Tait from SG who have recently joined the Implementation and Operations Group.

Members of the group provided introductions.

Minutes and actions from previous meeting

The Group was content with the meeting note of the inaugural meeting on 26 October 2021, no concerns or comments were raised.

The Chair provided an update on the actions from the previous meeting and their current status, see below:

  • action 1 – ASSIST to be invited to join the group – completed
  • action 2, action 3 and action 4 – terms of reference for the group to be updated and issued following comments at the first meeting – completed
  • action 5 and action 7 - a communications paper for settings to be developed for discussion – completed and presented at item four
  • action 6 – SG to develop a paper on registrations to the scheme, showing LA and private settings – ongoing – update provided in item three
  • action 8 – Scotland Excel to provide further information on associate membership – completed – update provided in 2.5 below
  • action 9 – action plan to be renamed action log – completed (updated log will be presented at the next meeting in February 2022)
  • action 10 – SG to issue invite for next meeting in November / December 2021 – completed

The group was content with the terms of reference, no concerns or comments were raised around this.

SG confirmed that the meeting note and terms of reference will now be published on the Scottish Government webpage and the link to these will be shared with the group (action 1).

Scotland Excel provided an update on action eight listed above on Associate Membership. The definition of this is any organisation that is local government or public sector that is not for profit can become an Associate Member. Private nurseries would not fall under this definition.

Group updates

The Chair invited the group to highlight any issues they would like to raise.

The Chair noted that the Scottish Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme (SMHSS) mailbox address would be helpful to circulate to enable members to circulate within their organisations. The mailbox can be used to seek information, note any issues or to raise any points with regard to the Scheme. The mailbox address is

The Chair and members of SG provided SG updates on the Mailbox, One Step Platform, SMHSS registrations, Committee on Toxicity and Discussion on Communication to settings.

Mailbox update. SG continue to monitor the SMHSS mailbox. The past four weeks have been very quiet in terms of correspondence.

Since the scheme launched there have been circa 70 emails predominantly enquiring about how to register for the scheme and requesting further guidance, with around 18 from parents, settings and local authorities regarding the registration process and the funding, including LSRs.

One Step Platform. As mentioned in the previous meeting, SG are looking to secure an online public and private sector facing platform, the purpose of which will allow settings to register to the SMHSS and local authorities to make payments to them. Part of this will include customer service and technical support for local authorities which will include training material.

SG would like to have this system in place for year two of the SMHSS and are currently investigating the best option to deliver this within the timescale. It was noted that the process needs to be robust and that all appropriate options thoroughly investigated.  

SG will provide a further update on this at our next meeting (action 2).

SMHSS registrations. SG noted that there was an outstanding action to provide a paper to the group showing registration data for the Scheme, which included a breakdown of local authority and private registered settings.

SG were hoping to undertake this exercise before Christmas but owing to current work and emerging Covid pressures being experienced by local authorities progression of collecting information from authorities has had to be paused. SG are working with COSLA and ADES members on a proposed data collection exercise to commence in the new year.

SG intend to present a paper for the Group’s discussion at the next meeting in February 2022 (action 3).

Committee on Toxicity (COT). Where children are unable to drink cow's milk for medical, ethical or religious reasons, the new Scheme allows settings to provide a specified non-dairy alternative defined as a drink which is an unsweetened, calcium enriched liquid (excluding rice milk).

The COT review has come about as the Vegan society are set to challenge the UK Nursery Milk Scheme to include non-dairy alternatives. This is now subject of debate at UK Committee of Toxicity. 

The first working group meeting set up jointly between the Committee of Toxicity and the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, took place on 7 Dec 2021.

There will be a focus on risk/benefit assessment of soya, oat and almond drinks for those children under the age of five years.

This will be a standing item on agenda for subsequent meetings.

SG to be updated on final outcome, the outcome will be due for review in six to nine months.

There were no comments from group on this aspect.

Discussion on communication to settings

The Registration Communication Paper (paper four) was circulated in advance of the meeting.

 Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA) and National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) commented that the flowcharts and list of local authority contacts are helpful. In particular it was noted that the proposed communication was very straightforward and pitched at the right level for settings.

SCMA recommended that SG should include that the scheme is intended for pre-school children and not children in primary one of school, on all communication.

ASSIST recommended that the definition of a healthy snack is included within the communication and that images of what a healthy snack is, and what a serving of milk looks like could be included.

NDNA suggested that, as well as distributing through Members organisations, that the communication could also be issued via the Care Inspectorate to all registered settings.

SG advised there are currently regular updates via the Care Inspectorate and also there will be annual returns questions at the beginning of next year. 

SG thanked Members for their comments and will update the communication for settings to include reference to ‘pre-school children’, the definition of a healthy snack and images of a healthy snack and a serving of milk (action 4). 

SCMA suggested that accompanying visual communications for children should also be developed to assist their understanding of what the Scheme is providing and to aid their learning and understanding of a healthy snack and serving of milk (or non-dairy alternative). SG will develop this (action 5).

ASSIST suggested that it would also be beneficial to develop an accompanying communication aimed at parents. The communication could be used by settings who have registered to inform parents on the availability of milk (or non-dairy alternative) and a healthy snack to children attending the setting. SG will draw upon existing material on the Scheme that is in the Parentclub website and develop a communication leaflet for parents (action 6).


No issues were raised by members.

Date of next meeting

Next meeting will likely be Feb 2022. SG wfill update in the New Year.

Summary of actions

Action 1- SG to share a link to the SMHSS website to members

Action 2 - SG to update the group on the development of an online portal for registrations at the next meeting

Action 3 - SG to present a paper on registration data of settings (LA and private) at the next meeting

Action 4 - SG to update the communication to settings

Action 5 - SG to develop a visual communications paper for children on the Scheme.

Action 6 - SG to develop a communications paper for parents on the Scheme.



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