Consumption of fruit, vegetables and milk is still falling across Europe as adolescents only eat around half of the fruits and vegetables specialists recommend daily. The set of proposals put forward by the European Committee of the Regions has now been backed by the European Parliament in a new draft law approved earlier this week. Children across the EU should soon benefit by having better-funded school milk, fruit and vegetable schemes along with better education on healthy eating.
The European Committee of the Regions welcomes the approval by the European Parliament of a new draft law to ensure better-funded school milk, fruit and vegetable schemes, along with better education on healthy eating.
"We are delighted that European Parliament has adopted the aid scheme for the supply of fruit and vegetables, bananas and milk in educational establishments which ensures the programme’s financial and long term stability" said Povilas Žagunis, member of the Municipal Council of the Lithuanian city of Panevėžys and rapporteur of the opinion in which the CoR adopted a set of measures that have now been backed by the European Parliament.
"I am happy to see that CoR proposals have been included in the new scheme. We welcome the fact that milk distribution is not limited just to drinking milk but enlarged to include minimally-processed milk products without harmful additives. Natural (unsweetened) milk products such as yoghurt or fresh cheeses are now also eligible for aid. This scheme is fundamentally important to ensure that our children get a diverse range of locally produced fruit, vegetables, bananas, milk and a healthier diet" added Povilas Žagunis.
The school milk scheme was set up in 1977 while the fruit one was introduced in 2009. Both promote the consumption of fruit, vegetables and milk. The new scheme foresees they operate under the same legal and financial basis. Funds have increased to reach €100 million for milk and €150 million for fruit and vegetables. Two new criteria for funds allocation have been agreed. The share of six to 10-year-olds in the population and the degree of development of the region within the member state. The new deal gives priority to fresh and local products over processed ones.
"We are pleased that the scheme prioritizes local production and short marketing chain, organic and locally grown food products and that only limited financial support is given to processed products, which of course need to have no harmful additives, sweeting agents, flavor enhancers or salt as included in the CoR opinion adopted in October 2014."
The provisionally agreed regulation, endorsed in Parliament by a large majority still needs to be formally approved by the Council. The new rules should apply from 1 August 2017.
Note to editors:
CoR's opinion CDR 1278/2014 ' The aid scheme for the supply of fruit and vegetables, bananas and milk in educational establishments'
European School Fruit Scheme
European School Milk Scheme
All 28 EU member states participate in the school milk scheme and 25 in the school fruit scheme (all except the UK, Finland and Sweden). Almost 10 million children across the EU benefited from the EU school fruit scheme and some 19 million benefited from the milk one in 2013/2014.