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IP/08/1958

Brussels, 12 December 2008

A Healthy Start for our Children: Commission conference on the School Fruit Scheme

The European Commission is holding a conference on the EU-wide School Fruit Scheme on the 15-16 December 2008, which will be open to the public through a web-streaming. During the two day conference, the Commission and around 300 stakeholders will discuss the background and objectives of existing schemes as well as looking into the many issues connected with running school fruit schemes effectively. In addition there will be four workshops, focusing on specific issues ranging from the supply chain to coherence with other policies, from communication with parents and teachers to evaluation techniques.

"The people taking part in the conference have a wealth of ideas about how to design and manage schemes to provide healthy food for children. They have huge amounts of information that can form the basis of a good and open debate," said Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel. "One of the things at the top of my wish list for this conference is the development of best practice models and the establishment of a network of experts."

Commissioner for Health, Androulla Vassiliou said" Providing fruit and vegetables to school children helps shape healthy diets at an early age. This scheme also emphasises the importance we place in striving towards health in all our policies. Indeed, this integrated approach is the engine that drives the Strategy for Europe on Nutrition, overweight and obesity related health issues."

European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth, Mr Ján Figel', said "The well-known Latin proverb 'Mens sana in corpore sano' highlights that a healthy body is necessary for effective learning. And healthy eating helps keep our bodies fit. I welcome these discussions about the School Fruit Scheme; because they underline the beneficial impact that healthy eating can have in education from an early age."

On 19 November 2008, EU agriculture ministers reached a political agreement on a Commission proposal for a European Union-wide scheme to provide fruit and vegetables to school children. European funds worth €90 million every year will pay for the purchase and distribution of fresh fruit and vegetables to schools. This money will be matched by national and private funds in those Member States which choose to make use of the programme. Besides providing fruit and vegetables to a target group of schoolchildren, the scheme will require participating Member States to set up strategies including educational and awareness-raising initiatives and the sharing of best practice.

An estimated 22 million children in the EU are overweight. More than 5 million of these are obese and this figure is expected to rise by 400,000 every year. Improved nutrition can play an important part in combating this problem.

The scheme will begin at the start of the 2009/2010 school year.

More info on the conference at:

http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/markets/fruitveg/sfs/events/conference/index_en.htm

Watch the conference live at http://webcast.ec.europa.eu/


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