EU - New measures to strengthen and boost funding for an EU scheme to provide fruit, vegetables and milk products in schools were backed by the agriculture committee on Monday.
They put more emphasis on educating children in healthy eating, increase the budget and merge into one the current separate schemes for milk and fruit in schools.
"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 financial stability of the programme by preventing member states from unilaterally cutting its budget or changing the criteria for allocating EU funds among themselves," said Marc Tarabella (S&D, BE), who steered the legislation through Parliament and led the EP's negotiating team.
Over 20 million EU children are overweight and adolescents on average eat only 30 per cent to 50 per cent of the recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables.
Parliament won an additional €20 million a year for milk measures. This brings the annual funding for milk and milk products up to €100 million, with €150 million for fruit and vegetables.
Parliament insisted that when foodstuffs are distributed in schools, under-consumed, local, fresh products should have priority over processed foods. Member states will be able to distribute processed foods like soups, compotes, juice, yoghurts and cheese only in addition to fresh fruit and vegetables and milk or lactose-free milk.
The agreed text still needs to be approved by Parliament as a whole at its March or April plenary session before going to the Council for its approval at first reading.
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