***For immediate release***
24 October 2012, Brussels
EU School Fruit Scheme – How to harvest public goods amidst EU-wide crisis
The evaluation of the School Fruit Scheme (SFS) in the European Union (1), published this week, is a welcome push for public health. The report emphasises the increasing outreach of the scheme, its positive impact on children’s diets, and the programme’s significance for the disadvantaged children from lower socio-economic background.
“These are certainly positive developments to draw on,” said Susanne Løgstrup, Chair of the European Public Health and Agriculture Consortium (EPHAC) – an alliance of public health organisations advocating for a healthy and sustainable Common Agricultural Policy in the EU (2). “The EU’s School Fruit Scheme presents an excellent model. It demonstrates that public investment pays off by promoting healthy living in those for whom we should care the most – our children,” she went on to say.
The evaluation assesses the implementation and impact of the EU School Fruit Scheme during the programme’s first two years. The scheme seeks to protect EU citizens’ well-being by encouraging healthy eating habits from an early stage by providing fruits and vegetables to schoolchildren.
Since the scheme’s inception, EPHAC has supported it. “The EU School Fruit Scheme is a shining example of health in all policies and demonstrates the benefits of synergies between policy areas like agriculture and public health,” highlighted Mrs Løgstrup.
The daily consumption of health-promoting agricultural products such as fresh fruits and vegetables can help prevent and tackle overweight and obesity in the EU. With 22 million overweight children in the EU (5.1 million obese) – an EU-wide trend set to make another 1.2 million children overweight each year and 300,000 obese, this complex phenomenon is underpinned by a declining consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables by young people and people of lower socio-economic background. Damaging eating habits are partially to blame for the skyrocketing rise of major chronic diet-related diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, type-2 diabetes and certain forms of cancer (3).
Notes to the editors:
(1) The scheme, agreed by the Council in 2008 and fully supported by the European Parliament, is an important EU-wide initiative providing fruit and vegetables to schoolchildren. Its main objective is to increase the low consumption of fruit and vegetables among children by durably increasing the share of those products in their diets when their eating habits are being formed. With an overall annual EU budget of €90 million, co-financing rate of 50 or 75%, the scheme reaches around 10 million of children (25% of target population) in 24 Member States. See the evaluation published here: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/evaluation/market-and-income-reports/school-fruit-scheme-2012_en.htm
(2) EPHAC is a Brussels based alliance of civil society and public health organisations advocating for a healthy, sustainable Common Agriculture Policy. EPHAC members are European Alcohol Policy Alliance, European Heart Network (EHN), European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), International Diabetes Federation European Region (IDF Europe), Heart of Mersey and National Heart Forum (NHF). Visit our website: www.healthyagriculture.eu
(3) Chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs), overweight and obesity, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, and mental health disorders pose the greatest threat to health and are a major barrier to sustainable economic and inclusive growth in Europe. Diet, along with physical activity, alcohol and tobacco consumption is one of the leading modifiable risk factors for NCDs.
Whom to contact at EPHAC: Dorota Sienkiewicz (firstname.lastname@example.org) +32 22 333 874.