“Eat well – feel good”: Commission proposes to combine and reinforce existing EU school milk and fruit schemes

31 Jan 2014

On 30 January 2014 the Commission presented a legislative proposal which aims at bringing together two currently separate school schemes, the School Fruit Scheme and the School Milk Scheme, under a joint framework.

Slow Food welcomes the reinforcement of the educational dimension: supporting educational measures would become a requirement also for the milk distribution. These measures would have a strong educational dimension, promoting healthy eating and raising awareness of issues such as the variety of agricultural products, sustainability, environmental issues and food waste.

In addition, they would provide a critical instrument to (re)connect the children with food, agricultural production and farmers. Educational measures should target the school population and if possible involve the family and community as well and address the wider issue of the existing offer of healthy options of food and beverages at schools. They are useful as evidence shows that many children grow up not knowing where their food comes from – where and how it is produced and what are products of certain seasons.

However, we regret that the distribution will still focus on two “core products” only: fresh fruit and vegetables (including bananas) and drinking milk. Only in the framework of the thematic educational measures, Member States could include a wider variety of agricultural products, such as for example yoghurts, processed fruit and vegetables, honey, olive oil, and similar.

In 2010-11, Slow Food launched the “European Schools for Healthy Food” campaign, funded by the European Commission – DG Agriculture and Rural Development, to raise awareness in European schools on the EU Fruit and Milk schemes. This project allowed us to gain a better understanding of the schemes and of their weaknesses.

Therefore we took the opportunity of the consultation launched by the Commission in 2013 to make proposals for a new improved scheme. We called for a scheme focusing on the involvement of products not only fresh and minimally processed, but also seasonal and local, possibly with environmental friendly packaging and from small-scale producers by using short supply chains.. The focus should therefore have been on the whole food supply chain and its social and environmental impact and not only on producers and consumers.

The proposal of the Commission does not fully meet our expectation, however it shows the effort to address poor nutrition more effectively and to reinforce the educational elements of the programmes. Indeed there is space for improvement and certainly the Member States will have their share of responsibility for ensuring the success of the initiative given that the participation in the scheme will be voluntary for them.

Read here the proposal.

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