Tomorrow (August 1) will see the launch of the new European Union combined fruit, vegetable and milk school scheme aimed at encouraging healthy eating among children.
Implemented across the EU in readiness for the first day of the new school term, the new scheme merges previous projects.
Some time ago European Parliament endorsed plans to merge the School Fruit Scheme (SFS) with the School Milk Scheme (SMS) in a bid to make them more efficient – and now it’s time for the scheme to come into effect.
It includes the distribution of fruit, vegetables and milk products as well as dedicated educational programmes to teach pupils about the importance of good nutrition and to explain how food is produced.
The previous fruit and vegetable scheme reached more than 11.7 million schoolchildren across the EU and the new merged scheme is hoping to impact more kids.
Taking part is optional, however the majority of member states have previously participated and have indicated interest for the initiative in the 2017/18 school year.
According to European Commission data, €3.3 million has been allocated to Belgium, €25.8 to Germany, €21.7 to Italy, almost €13 to Spain and France gets just under €18 million.
The UK and Sweden have not been allocated any funding for the 2017/2018.
“I am very pleased that the new school scheme will be introduced tomorrow,” says
Phil Hogan, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development.
“The scheme provides valuable support to millions of European schoolchildren and thousands of farmers in every member state. Such support has proven particularly important for farmers in recent years and the increased funding will enhance the value of this support.
“In addition, the new scheme meets my priority of simplification through the integration of the former school milk and vegetable schemes. Finally, I am happy to be involved with an initiative with Commissioners Andriukaitis and Navracsics to promote a healthy lifestyle and I am convinced that this scheme has a valuable part to play.”
Specific produce depends on seasonality and availability with priority given to EU products. Processed products like soup, fruit compotes, juice, yoghurts and cheese may also be distributed if this choice is approved by the national health authorities.
In addition, countries have the option to top up the EU aid with national aid for financing the scheme.
Approximately €150 million (£134 million) will be allocated for the fruit and vegetables and €100 million for milk (£89.4 million).