More fruit, vegetables and milk for 30 million European school children
30 million children will eat more healthily thanks to a vote today in the European Parliament on new legislation which will allow fruit, vegetables and milk to be freely distributed in schools across Europe all year round.
S&D MEP Marc Tarabella, the author of the parliamentary report, said:
"I am shocked by a worrying figure: only 36% of Europeans eat their five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, while at the same time one child in three is overweight or obese in Europe.
"I had several objectives: offering healthy food from the earliest ages, helping to teach children about food, fighting obesity, but also promoting and highlighting local and regional products. The vote today is excellent news for the health of the 30 million school children who will benefit from it, and for direct producer-consumer relations.
"Children between six and ten years old will participate in the programme, but pre-school and secondary classes will also have the option to participate. For example in the Brussels-Wallonia region, more than 1000 schools and 210,000 pupils are already signed up. As the scheme has now been simplified, it's a reasonable bet that this figure will rise further across the whole of Europe in the next few years."
The Parliament also secured the agreement of the EU member states to combine the two budget lines – for fruit and vegetables, and for milk – and in the future, member states will not be able to unilaterally cut the funding without agreement from the European Parliament. Furthermore, the EU Council agreed to the funding the Parliament requested: €150 million per year for fruit and vegetables, and €100 million for milk (€20 million more than the Commission initially proposed).