EU backing for Schools Fruit Scheme
Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has welcomed proposals to amend EU regulations to allow member states to set up a School Fruit Scheme that would both provide free fruit and vegetables to schoolchildren and support the local farming industry.
Ms de Brún first called for the introduction of a Schools Fruit Scheme in September 2007 when she welcomed the update of the EU milk-for-children initiative to provide school children with milk across Europe.
Ms de Brún said:
"There is now a proposal on the table that would allow EU member states to develop a School Fruit Scheme that would include the free distribution of fruit (and/or vegetables) to schools. It will also allow states that have fruit programmes to extend these schemes.
"This can not only make a real impact on the eating habits of our children but can also have a long-term benefit for our fruit and vegetable producers. Obesity and poor diets have never been such a problem as they are now and EU action will be very welcome.
"The provision of EU aid under a Schools Fruit Scheme would both meet EU objectives in relation to CAP and this farming sector but would also provide a policy and funding framework for initiatives aimed at increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables in the diet of children at a stage where their lifelong eating habits are formed.
"As Minister for Health, and lead Minister for the Investing for Health strategy in the last power-sharing Executive, I oversaw the launch of a pilot scheme which included fresh fruit for children. I am convinced that this new initiative can prove to be very beneficial." ENDS