Court of Auditors
School schemes: Good marks for fruit, poor marks for milk
By Louis Antoine | Monday 24 October 2011
The scheme for the sale of reduced-rate milk products to school children, in place since 1977, “is largely ineffective” while the scheme for the free distribution of fruit set up recently seems more likely to meet the “stated educational goals,” according to a report adopted by the EU Court of Auditors, on 24 October. Both schemes were set up to encourage children to adopt healthy eating habits and to help widen the market for these products.
According to the court, the school milk scheme is affected by a major deadweight effect, namely the fact that the products subsidised either would be included in canteen meals anyway or would probably be bought by beneficiaries even without the subsidy. The stated educational goals, continues the court, are not taken sufficiently into account in the scheme’s design and implementation.
On the other hand, the court states that while it is too early to determine the effectiveness of the fruit scheme, “its planning” seems much more likely to contribute to the educational and nutritional objectives set. The court finds that if the milk scheme is continued, the model of free distribution outside of canteens should be considered, and that the population to be targeted should be determined in terms of nutritional needs. It also insists that coordination and synergy between the two programmes should be enhanced to guarantee the coherence of the nutritional approach and optimal management. The EU currently spends €180 million yearly on these two measures.
The is available at eca.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/eca_main_pages/home