TALLINN - Estonia will receive an approximately 1.3 million euro subsidy to implement the new European Union school fruit and vegetable and milk schemes, which are set to enter into force on Tuesday.
The schemes will be implemented in the whole of the European Union from the first day of the new school year.
The scheme, which is set to promote the healthy diet of children, involves distributing fruit, vegetables and dairy products as well as organizing dedicated educational programs to teach pupils about the importance of good nutrition and to explain how food is produced. This single scheme merges and optimizes the existing projects that last year reached over 20 million children. Even though participation in the scheme is voluntary, all 28 EU member states have expressed interest in participating in the scheme during the 2017-2018 school year.
Estonia is set to receive 565,888 euros for fruit and vegetables and 732,225 euros for school milk.
European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan expressed his joy that the new school scheme will be introduced on Tuesday. "The scheme provides valuable support to millions of European schoolchildren and thousands of farmers in every member state. Such support has proven particularly important for farmers in recent years and the increased funding will enhance the value of this support. In addition, the new scheme meets my priority of simplification through the integration of the former school milk and vegetable schemes. Finally, I am happy to be involved with an initiative with Commissioners [Vytenis]Andriukaitis and [Tibor] Navracsics to promote a healthy lifestyle and I am convinced that this scheme has a valuable part to play," Hogan said.
Fresh fruit, vegetables and drinking milk will be given as a priority to school children. Processed products such as soup, fruit compotes, juice, yogurts and cheese may also be distributed if this choice is approved by the national health authorities. No added sugar, salt and fat are allowed unless the national health authorities permit limited quantities.
Besides deciding on the exact way to put the scheme in place, like the inclusion of thematic educational measures and other agricultural products, member states have the option to top up the EU aid with national aid for financing the scheme.
The choice of products shall be based on health and environmental considerations, seasonality, variety and availability with priority to EU products. Member states may encourage local or regional purchasing, organic products, short supply chains, environmental benefits, agricultural quality schemes.
The agreed sum of EU support for the new scheme during the 2017-2018 school year is 250 million euros.