On Wednesday evening the European Parliament voted in favour of a global programme which will see fruit, vegetables, and dairy products distributed in schools and paid for by the EU. Belgian Socialist MEP Marc Tarabella, in charge of the project, was pleased by “this excellent news for the health of the 30 million European schoolchildren who will benefit.” The European Parliament agreed to integrate 2 existing programmes encouraging consumption of fruit and vegetables and of dairy products in schools. “From now on the programme will be completely subsidised by the EU, both for fruit and vegetables and for dairy products,” explains rapporteur Marc Tarabella, who also welcomes the fact that the process has been simplified. “It is now much easier for more schools to register for the programme and receive the food needed. In Wallonia and in Brussels, 1,000 schools and 210,000 pupils aged 2-12 will benefit.
The European Parliament aims to increase the budget for this programme to 250 million euros, from 190 million currently (including over 3 million for Belgium alone). MEPs plan to spend 10-20% of European funds to promote healthy eating habits and fight wastage. They also modified a legislative proposal so that yogurts and cheese will benefit from European financing as well, with priority given to local produce. “With the distribution of 385 million litres of milk, and 65,000 tons of fruit and vegetables, distribution programmes favour short cycles,” says Mr. Tarabella.
The European Parliament gave itself power to negotiate on this legislative proposal in plenary session in Brussels on Wednesday (458 voted in favour, 97 against, and 28 abstained). Negotiations with European ministers can now start, with the aim to come to an agreement by the autumn, and implementation should hopefully start next year.