A programme to provide for healthy eating initiatives in EU schools worth €250 million has passed the final hurdle with the European Parliament voting in favour of the package to come into effect by August of next year.
Mairead McGuinness MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament has welcomed the increased funding under the EU’s school fruit, vegetable and milk distribution schemes to promote healthy eating in Ireland and across Europe, following the vote in Strasbourg today (Tuesday).
The package merges and strengthens the EU school milk and fruit schemes, with greater funding and more emphasis on education. This is due to come into force by August 2017.
“Today’s vote confirms an additional €20 million a year for milk measures which the Parliament’s Agriculture Committee was able to secure. This will bring annual funding for milk and milk products up to €100 million, with €150 million for fruit and vegetables EU-wide,” McGuinness said of the European Parliament report entitled Aid Scheme for the Supply of fruit and vegetables, bananas and milk in educational establishments.
Over the 2014-2015 school year, around 160,000 Irish school children benefited from the Food Dudes programme which is supplemented by EU funding. This funding will now be bolstered following the positive vote by MEPs, according to McGuinness, a member of the Parliament’s Agriculture Committee.
Ireland is set to receive over €1.75 million in EU funding under the School Fruit and Vegetables Scheme this year according to indicative allocations, a substantial increase on the amount of €913,000 allocated in 2015 (of which €861,910 was drawn down). Under the milk scheme, Ireland’s indicative allocation for 2016 is over €900,000.
“The scheme also plays an essential role in promoting healthy eating amongst our youngest citizens in teaching them to make healthy choices from a young age. That’s a crucial lesson when we consider that over 20 million children overweight in the EU. In Ireland, one in four children are overweight or obese.
“Europe-wide, this particular scheme can benefit as many as 12 million children in the 25 participating Member States,” added McGuinness.