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‘Putting milk into babies’: The Welfare Foods Scheme

Our Virtual Museum post this week is a photograph from our collection, dated June 1951. Pictured at the Child Welfare Clinic in Seymour Street are Mr. A. N. Stevenson, Chair of the Lisburn Urban Council, Mr. T.H. MacDonald, the Town Clerk, and Dr. W.M. Burns with a mothers and babies’ group. The group were present for an information session on the UK’s Welfare Food Scheme.

Information day at the Lisburn Child Welfare Clinic, Seymour Street, June 1951. ILC&LM Collection

The Welfare Food Scheme, a  landmark initiative from the Ministry of Food, was introduced in December 1941 as part of the war effort. Designed to safeguard expectant mothers’ nutritional status, the scheme was heralded by Winston Churchill, who said: “there is no finer investment for any country than putting milk into babies”.

The scheme was hugely successful and was attributed to the improvement in children’s well-being during the Second World War. In 1946, the Government decided to continue the initiative as part of its peace-time social services.

Poster for the Welfare foods programme c. 1950. National Archives Collection

At the Lisburn information session at Seymour Street, the Chairman of the Urban Council, Mr. A.N. Stevenson referred to the positive change which the scheme had brought, calling it a far cry from ‘the bad old days’. This was when ‘mothers were faced with nothing but their own courage’ after giving birth. Hailing the scheme, Mr. Stevenson said the Government had now provided a service for mothers which could not be equalled in another part of the world. The Welfare Food Scheme remained available for all until the 1960s.


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