Review of the EU school, fruit, vegetables and milk scheme

Consumption of fresh fruit, vegetables and milk in the European Union is relatively low when compared to consumption of processed food, which is often high in added sugar, salt, fat or additives, that is on the rise. Unhealthy diets, together with low physical activity, result in obesity. A recent report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed that in Europe over 50% of adults and almost 1 in 3 children are overweight or living with obesity.

To address this problem, the EU takes action to encourage children to follow a healthy diet and lifestyle. Through an EU-wide school scheme, that started in 2017, the European Union has been supporting the distribution of fruit, vegetables and milk to school children from nursery school up to secondary school. In addition to increasing the consumption of these healthy products, this scheme aims to reconnect children with agriculture and teach about healthy eating habits through different educational activities.

This scheme already addresses the new objective set out in the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for the period 2023 to 2027, to improve the response of EU agriculture to societal demands on food and health. However, there is scope for enhancing the scheme’s contribution to sustainable food production and consumption.

In this regard, the European Commission has launched a review of the EU school scheme as part of the Farm to Fork Strategy with the goal of creating a favourable food environment that makes it easier to choose a healthy and sustainable diet.

Through this review, the Commission will assess the effectiveness, efficiency, relevance, coherence, and EU added value of the EU school scheme. It also seeks to identify any unnecessary administrative burden linked to the design or implementation of the EU scheme and the scope for simplification.

The review of the EU school scheme will contribute to Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan to improve health promotion through access to healthy diets. It will also take into account the Council recommendation establishing the European Child Guarantee, according to which all children at risk of poverty or social exclusion should be guaranteed effective and free access to at least one healthy school meal each school day.

As part of the review of this scheme, the Commission has initiated a public consultation to gather feedback on the performance of the EU school scheme as implemented since 2017 and the design of the new initiative. The stakeholders’ feedback will help shape how the scheme can be reformed in order to better promote healthy and sustainable diets.

The Commission invites educational establishments and their associations, NGOs active in education on food, nutrition and health, schoolchildren and/or their parents/guardians, businesses and business associations active in the agriculture and food sector, and public authorities to contribute to this online consultation and provide their feedback by July 28, 2022.