UK refuses EU offer of free school fruit and veg

The UK has again declined to take advantage of an EU scheme to provide free fruit and vegetables to school children.

Children across 26 EU countries will benefit from free fruit, vegetables and milk thanks to €250m (£218m) in EU funding for the 2017-18 school year.

But the UK and Sweden have declined to take part in the scheme for fruit and vegetables – although they have signed up for free school milk.

See also: UK refuses to back EU school scheme

The scheme aims to increase the share of healthy food products in the diet of young people.

Of the €250m (£218m) agreed for 2017–2018, roughly €150m (£130m) will be allocated for fruit and vegetables and €100m (£87m) for milk.

Teaching support

As well as providing children with fruit, vegetables and milk, the money is used to support teaching about agriculture and healthy diets.

Money allocated under the scheme to each member state is based on the number of school-age children and, for milk, on the previous use of EU funds.

Germany, for example, received has been allocated almost €11m (£9.6m) for school milk and nearly €26m (£22.6m) for free fruit and vegetables.

But while the UK has been allocated more than €4m (£3.49) for milk, it will receive nothing to support the delivery of free fruit and vegetables.

Countries have the freedom to request less or more money, should additional funding be available, within the agreed overall budget.

Money allocated to a member state but not requested, for whatever reason, can be reallocated elsewhere within the scheme by the European Commission.

Extra money

This means other countries can ask for extra money if another country declines to claim it.

It is not the first time that the UK has declined to participate in the scheme.

Last April, the UK refused to support an EU plan to increase school visits to farms and encourage youngsters to eat more fruit and vegetables.