The European Commission today published a proposal bringing together two currently separate school schemes, the School Fruit Scheme and the School Milk Scheme, under a joint framework. In a context of declining consumption among children for these products, the aim is to address poor nutrition more effectively, to reinforce the educational elements of the programmes and to contribute to fight against obesity. With the slogan "Eat well - feel good", this enhanced scheme from farm to school will put greater focus on educational measures to improve children's awareness of healthy eating habits, the range of farm produce available, as well as sustainability, environmental and food waste issues.
Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloş, said today: "With the changes proposed today, we want to build on the existing schemes, to reverse the downward trend in consumption and raise awareness among children of the potential benefits of these products. This is an important measure for bringing about sustained changes in children's eating habits and improving awareness of important challenges that society faces. I also hope that is will be a great opportunity to strengthen links between the farming community and children, their parents and teachers, especially in urban areas".
The new scheme will operate under a joint legal and financial framework, improving and streamlining the administrative requirements under the two existing schemes. Having this single framework will reduce the management and organisational burden for national authorities, schools and suppliers and make the scheme more efficient. Participation in the scheme will be voluntary for Member States, which will also have flexibility to choose the products they wish to distribute.
As already programmed in last year's deal on future EU spending, the new scheme, once agreed, will have a budget of € 230 million per school year (€150 million for fruit and vegetables and € 80 million for milk). This compares with a budget of €197m (€122m and €75m respectively) in the 2014 budget. The proposal, which will now be submitted to the European Parliament and to the Council, builds on the findings of evaluation reports and the public consultation that was carried out in 2013 in the context of the Impact Assessment process.