Brussels, 16 May 2023
The European Parliament adopted on 9 May a resolution on the implementation of the EU School Scheme for fruit, vegetables, milk and dairy products. Meanwhile, a new poll has revealed that the majority of citizens believe that there should be guarantees for high-standard food in schools. Both of these demonstrate that citizens and MEPs agree: schools should not only impart knowledge but also the habit of eating healthy and sustainable food.
Public procurement has transformative potential when used properly, both for local farmers and for children. Public expenditure should lead by example and set high standards of local and seasonable food in schools and hospitals, as well as show kids the path towards healthy eating patterns.
The poll, which surveyed a representative sample of over 3,000 people, was conducted by Buy Better Food, a coalition of civil society organizations calling for good public sector procurement. The results indicate that citizens across Europe overwhelmingly support good public-sector food and guaranteed standards.
Europeans have spoken clearly and loudly. When it comes to public canteens and spending public money, 93% of the respondents stated that the food offered should contribute to a healthier society and a healthier planet.
According to 88% of respondents public money should be spent in support of the common good, such as providing healthy and sustainable menus in schools and hospitals. Furthermore, spending should also contribute to mitigating climate change, by buying local and seasonable products (82% of survey respondents).
“These results are very positive. They demonstrate a clear consensus among European citizens for guaranteed high-standard food in public canteens and are a mandate for the EU commission action. We are asking anyone who agrees to join us in supporting the Buy Better Food manifesto” said the coordinator of the Buy Better Food Coalition, Giorgia Dalla Libera Marchiori.
Moreover, considering the increasing costs of living, these meals might be the only warm meals children from low-income households have access to.
However, the Parliament has failed to include plant-based drinks, as an alternative to milk, turning away those children living with lactose intolerance.
European public procurement, together with the minimum mandatory sustainability criteria, will be further regulated in the upcoming Framework for Sustainable Food Systems, the flagship piece of legislation of the Farm to Fork Strategy, which aims to accelerate the transition towards a greener future.