Aimed at promoting healthy eating habits among children, the EU school scheme 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.
With the number of participating schools increasing, the healthy eating initiative reached over 30 million children across the European Union in the 2017/2018 school year.
European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, said: "It is important to know where our food comes from and the hard work that comes with it. With the EU school schemes, not only do the children learn about farming and food production but they also taste quality produce and benefit from their nutritional values. It is never too early to enjoy good food!"
Under the scheme, €150 million is set aside each school year for fruit and vegetables and €100 million for milk and other dairy products. Although participation is voluntary, all EU Member states opted to get involved, either for all or part of the scheme. National allocations for all 28 Member States taking part in the scheme for the 2018-19 school year were approved and adopted by the European Commission in March 2018. Member States also have the option to top up EU aid with national aid to finance the scheme.
The choice of products distributed is based on health and environmental considerations, seasonality, variety and availability. Member States may encourage local or regional purchasing, organic products, short supply chains, environmental benefits, agricultural quality schemes.
The distribution of fruit, vegetables and milk started is accompanied by a variety of educational activities for school children. Almost all countries established committees with the participation of authorities and stakeholders in the agriculture, health and education sector, several of which met in the course of the school year to supervise the activities.
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