The state of Saxony will again participate in the EU school program in the 2022/2023 school year. As in previous years, the Ministry is committed to the health of young people. As part of the program, students receive free extra servings of fruits and vegetables and dairy products. The goal of this offer is to make eating healthy food enjoyable for children and to educate them about healthy eating.
Educational institutions must register in order to participate. This is possible for all nurseries and kindergartens, as well as for primary and special schools. From April 6 to 12, institutions have the opportunity to apply to be included in the program. Schools that are already participating in the current school year must also apply again. By participating, they undertake to offer accompanying pedagogical measures. These are intended to increase the effectiveness of the program. As part of these measures, children should be taught something about the products, their origin and healthy eating.
A fight against inequalities
The school program aims to teach children about healthy eating. Because what many parents have known for a long time is now also proven by a study by the Robert Koch Institute: German children eat very little fruit and vegetables. Only 12.2 percent of girls and 9.4 percent of boys get the five recommended servings. The work also makes it clear that children’s fruit and vegetable consumption depends on their parents’ household. After all, your eating habits are heavily influenced by your social environment. It is noteworthy that the consumption of fruits and vegetables increases the higher the social status of the parents. The same applies to a higher level of education and lower media consumption. In general, these families pay more attention to a healthy and varied diet.
To ensure that children are not disadvantaged due to their social situation, the EU school program counteracts this at an early stage so that all children have access to healthy nutrition. Schools and preschool educational institutions are important places to learn what healthy eating means. After all, classmates and teachers are part of the social environment that children use to navigate.
A success story
The EU school program started with its predecessors in 2009. At that time it was divided into the EU school fruit and vegetable program and the EU school milk programme. However, in 2017 both programs were merged. However, the goal has not changed since then. The offer still aims to combat obesity and unhealthy diets at an early stage. Each school year, member states have €220.8 million in EU funds at their disposal, including €130.6 million for fruit and vegetables. In the 2020/2021 school year, Germany alone benefited from €28 million bringing fruit and vegetables to schools. There was also 10.5 million euros for school milk.
In this way, 2.8 million children could receive healthy food in 23,000 educational institutions throughout Germany. The fruits and vegetables delivered are not just everyday items like apples, bananas or carrots. Instead, lesser-known alternatives like berries, citrus, plums, parsnips, fennel, or salsify are also included. As part of the school milk program, children are offered plain yogurt and cheese in addition to fresh milk.