More money and effort must be invested by the EU and its member states in promoting healthy eating and the consumption of local foodstuffs by children, said the European Parliament agriculture and rural development committee on Tuesday.
The agriculture committee endorsed plans to merge two schemes which are currently separate – one providing milk for schoolchildren and the other fruit – and to extend the educational measures already included in the fruit scheme to cover milk as well. According to its press release, it also approved a set of amendments to draft rules on the schemes.
Among measures sought by the committee are that:
member states earmark 10% – 20% of the EU funding they receive to educational activities, designed for example to promote healthy eating habits and sustainable production, and including visits to farms and the occasional distribution of local specialities such as processed fruit and vegetables (unless they contain added sugar, fat, salt or sweeteners), honey, olives or dried fruits;
an additional €20 million a year be allocated for the measures covering milk, bringing annual funding for milk and milk products up to €100 million, with €150 million for fruit and vegetables;
a fairer distribution of EU funds among member countries, by setting two core criteria for the entire scheme (the proportion of six to ten-year-old children in the population and the degree of development of the region within the member state).
As background, the committee noted consumption of fruit, vegetables and milk continues to fall across Europe. Over 20 million children are overweight and adolescents are on average consuming only 30% to 50% of the recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables.
The amendments endorsed by the Agriculture committee should be scrutinised by the full House during the 27 May plenary session in Brussels.