Children in Europe should benefit from a better-designed Milk and Food scheme, according to a new draft law approved by the members of the European Parliament today.
The school milk scheme was set up in 1977 in the EU and it included a provision for a healthy eating education since 2009. According to the European Parliament, both schemes were set up to promote the consumption of fruit, vegetables and milk and dairy products.
Today, the Members of the European Parliament decided to merge today’s separate EU school milk and fruit schemes and boost their combined annual budget by €20 million to €250 million a year.
According to the draft law, Member states will have to promote more healthy eating habits, local food, organic farming and the fight against food waste. Moreover, children should also become familiar with agriculture and better understand how agricultural goods are being produced.
The MEPs also stressed in the draft law that priority must be given to under-consumed fresh and local products over processed ones like soups, compotes, juice, yoghurts and cheese. The latter could be provided only in addition to fresh fruit, vegetables and milk or lactose-free milk. In addition, added sweeteners and artificial flavor enhancers will be excluded and the distribution of products with limited amounts of added sugar, salt and fat will receive EU funding only as an exception.
“A healthy, balanced diet is the foundation of good health, but the consumption of fruit, vegetables and milk has been declining across the EU. This is why it is of the utmost importance to strengthen the school fruit, vegetables and milk scheme by increasing its budget and making it more focused on healthy-eating education. Parliament also ensured the programme’s financial stability, by preventing member states from cutting its budget unilaterally or changing the criteria for allocating EU funds among themselves,” said Marc Tarabella (S&D, BE), who steered the legislation through Parliament and led its negotiating team.