Increasing consumption in schools

Good news. The Commission is proposing to reinforce the School Fruit Scheme (SFS). In its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) 2020 reform proposals, the Commission proposes to increase the European Union (EU) budget to €150 million and at the same time increase the co-financing rate (from 50/75% to 75/90%).

The SFS is now in its third year of implementation. We all know how important it is to influence children’s eating habits while they are being formed, ensuring lifelong positive effects. It has been very well received by the general public in the EU, providing an important public good from the CAP.

However, some Member States (MS) have not been able to fully use their allocated budget, resulting in fewer schoolchildren benefitting from the scheme. In times of budgetary austerity, it is difficult to mobilise the necessary national financial contribution. In other cases the budget has been insufficient for some MS. So although in the 2009/2010 school year, 4.7 million children in participating MS have benefited from the Scheme; this figure is too low.

In addition, the Commission is proposing to strengthen the EU financial support to the accompanying measures. The accompanying measures provide the link to agriculture, nutrition, health, environment and physical activity, working together to make the scheme much more than simply handing out fruit and vegetables to children. To give an example, this would include school visits to farms. The accompanying measures are currently fully financed from national public or private funds, putting a strain on national budgets. The Commission is proposing to co-finance the accompanying measures up to a certain threshold. The fruit is the “key to the door”, but the accompanying measures is the “room” we want to get the pupils into. The SFS is an investment in the future of our school children playing its part in the fight against obesity.

With the Commission CAP 2020 proposal, we have paved the way to increase the number of schoolchildren benefiting.

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