Five a day: how the EU will help children to learn about healthy eating 

Children should learn about health food from an early age ©BELGA_AGEFOTOSTOCK_D.Cervo  

Children are eating fewer and fewer fruit, vegetables and dairy products in Europe, but a new proposal could help them to adopt a healthier diet. Under the plan two existing EU schemes for handing out fresh milk, fruit and vegetables to pupils would be combined, reducing the administrative burden and creating more opportunities for teaching children about balanced diets. MEPs debate the plans during the plenary session on Wednesday 27 May from 17.00 CET, which will be followed by a vote.

Belgian S&D member Marc Tarabella, who is responsible for steering the plans through Parliament, said it was essential to teach children about healthy and balanced diets from an early age. He also pointed out the milk and fruit schemes gave the right example by including local produce: "These are products that we can obtain locally, without having them go three times around the planet before they finish in our plates. I am happy that the Commission, and through it, the European Parliament, are in favour of this important report."

Launched in 1977, the School Milk Scheme benefits more than 20 million school children between the ages of six and ten every year all over the EU. At the same time nearly nine million children from 25 member states a year profit from the School Fruit Scheme since 2009.

It is up to member states to decide if they want to take part in the programmes. Under the new scheme they will have more flexibility to choose the products they wish to distribute and are also able to focus more on teaching about what constitutes a healthy diet.

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