School fruit programme in trouble, suppliers in dispute over subsidies
Some 350,000 primary and secondary school pupils will no longer get free fruit from this week because of dispute between suppliers and the European Commission about the subsidies, the Volkskrant said on Monday.
Schools have been supplying three pieces of fruit a week to pupils since 2010 as part of a series of lessons about diet and healthy eating.
The cost is 75 percent subsidised by the European Commission and is aimed at improving children’s diet and reducing obesity.
The new programme should have started on Monday and run for 20 weeks, the Volkskrant says.
However, the suppliers say the demands made by Brussels and The Hague have made it too risky to deliver to schools.
‘We have to finance this in advance but the terms and conditions make it impossible to know if we will finally get the full subsidy,’ Peter de Boer, director of supplier schoolfruit.nu told the Volkskrant.
‘The EU wants us to deliver different sorts of fruit but sometimes we have not been compensated for the most expensive sort. We are continuing to pressure the economic affairs ministry to come up with a workable set of regulations.’
At least 20 European countries take part in the school fruit scheme, which has a budget of EUR 150m from Brussels.
Of this, just over EUR 5m goes to the Netherlands, the Volkskrant said.