The European Unions (EU's) School Programme for Fruit, Vegetables, and Milk

Ein lachendes Mädchen in weißer Bluse liegt auf der grünen Wiese, neben sich eine Flasche Milch und ein Korb Äpfel
Photo: BMLRT / Pixhunter

The EU School Programme for Fruit, Vegetables, and Milk aims to promote awareness for a healthy diet among children and adolescents in educational institutions. All Austrian schools and kindergartens can participate in the EU School Programme and - as long as funds are available - receive a subsidy.

The objective of this programme created by the EU is to promote healthy eating habits among children and the future generations. This is done by teaching school children healthy food habits when they are in an age that is crucial for the development of their sense of taste and by helping them understand how diet, origin and the production of food, agriculture and the environment are interconnected.

To this end, the European Union is using funds from the agricultural budget to finance Community assistance for the sale of fruit, vegetables and milk to children in schools at a reduced price.

For each school year, all the participating Member States receive two final budget allocations from the Commission for the two sectors milk and fruit and vegetables, respectively.  

You will find information on programme participation and the administrative procedure for subsidies on the AMA website.

The EU's school fruit and vegetables scheme

The purchase of fresh fruit and vegetables for school and kindergarten children participating in the scheme is subsidised by EU funds at a rate of 50 % of the product costs. The subsidy is capped at EUR 6.50 per kilo, which means that the maximum subsidy payable amounts to EUR 3.25 per kilo. The remaining costs, including value added tax, which is excluded from subsidisation, must be paid for by other supporting organisations like parents' associations and municipalities or by using private funds.

To ensure that even more regional and seasonal fruit and vegetables are distributed among children and adolescents, only specific fruit and vegetable varieties are eligible for subsidies. These include apples, pears, grapes, melons, walnuts, kiwis, apricots, cherries, peaches, nectarines, prunes, plums, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, blueberries, black, white and red currant, orange carrots, yellow carrots, tomatoes, bell peppers, small radishes, white radishes, cucumbers, kohlrabi, celery and pea pods and then oranges, mandarins, clementines, satsumas and grapefruits only in the supply period from November to February.

School milk

Subsidies are available for a diverse range of products consisting of milk, soured milk and butter milk, natural yogurt, but also cocoa, fruit yogurt and fruit milk. The focus is on healthy food, because the addition of salt, fat, sweeteners or artificial flavour enhancers is prohibited. Only a limited amount of sugar may be added. The subsidy for school milk varies depending on the proportion of milk contained in a given product. Thanks to subsidisation, the products become cheaper.

School milk products are a rewarding snack to enjoy during breaks and often the first meal for children who come to school without first having had breakfast.

Virtually all school milk suppliers are regional direct marketers. The products are freshly made and, depending on the region and supplier, delivered either in glass bottles, cups or carton packaging. Where possible, the empty containers are taken back by the suppliers.

Milk drive

Starting in the 2018/19 school year, a milk drive was launched that subsidises – with the exception of value added tax – the supply of drinking milk with funds from the EU. First graders across Austria are the beneficiaries of this drive and receive milk on a maximum of 5 consecutive school days in the period from September to October. The school milk farmers and a number of dairy farms have agreed to pay the VAT, as a result of which the drinking milk available to the school children is free of charge.

Drinking milk takes priority

In line with the programme's objective of promoting healthy eating habits among children, products without any added flavourings und added sweeteners like sugar or honey can be supplied to school children at a considerably lower price thanks to higher subsidies. As a result, drinking milk available outside the milk drive is much cheaper for children in the participating educational institutions than cocoa, for example.

Accompanying activities

The purpose of the accompanying activities is to provide educational support when supplying fruit and vegetables, milk and dairy products. They are intended to teach children about healthy eating habits, about food production, agriculture and the environment and also about product diversity, regionality and seasonality.

The activities available include tastings and excursions to agricultural holdings. During the tastings, additional agricultural produce and manufactured goods, including cheese, curd, honey and processed fruit and vegetables, can be passed out to the children.

A lump sum in EU funds is granted for each participant. Check out the AMA website for further information on project submissions and the administrative procedure for subsidies.

The EU also subsidises the production of teaching materials. The digital milk case was developed by Agrarmarkt Marketing. It contains excellent learning materials on milk production for all school grades as well as worksheets, films, poster templates and a manual for teachers. The digital milk case can be obtained free of charge from AMA Marketing.

Implementation in Austria

Since its original roll-out, the fruit and vegetable part of the programme has made lots of headway and established itself in Austria.

Product supplies amounted to 199 tonnes in 2010/11 and only four years later they had increased to a total of 831 tonnes.

In the 2017/18 school year, 1,336 tonnes of fruit and vegetables were dealt out among approx. 338,000 children in 2,558 schools and kindergartens and EUR 2.3 million were paid out in EU subsidies.

Apples are by far the most frequently delivered product. Vegetables make up a 20 % share in the products consumed. Roughly one third of the distributed products stem from organic production.

In the 2017/18 school year, 2,534 tonnes of school milk products were delivered to a total of 2,404 schools and kindergartens. About EUR 1 million in EU subsidies were paid out, of which EUR 630,484 were spent on product supplies. The most popular product is cocoa. Organic products make up around 22 %.