EU School Fruit Scheme a success
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At the Agriculture Council on 28 January 2013, the Commission presented an evaluation of the first three years of the functioning of the European School Fruit Scheme. The first results point to a success.
This EU-wide scheme supplies fresh fruit and vegetables and also processed products to school children. The distribution is accompanied by campaigns to explain the related health benefits and strengthen the link with agriculture for example through farm visits or gardening sessions.
The evaluation report shows that more than 8 million children and 54 000 schools in 2010-11 benefited from the School Fruit Scheme, introduced in 2009. Short-term results indicate that it has led to an increase in children's intake of fruit and vegetables, and, if continued, could have a lasting influence on their eating habits.
The main objective is to prevent and tackle overweight and obesity. 22 million children in the EU are overweight, 5.1 million are obese, and numbers are rising. The scheme targets nursery to secondary school children, in particular pupils aged 6-10 years and disadvantaged children from lower socio-economic backgrounds who tend to have less fruit and vegetables in their diet.
The EU co-finances national programmes up to a level of 50%, which is increased to 75% for the poorer regions in the Union. The rest is funded by member states and/or private contributions. Currently, 24 member states participate. The scheme has also had the effect of creating an additional demand for fruit and vegetables.