Obesity is rising amongst primary school aged children and 80% of children are not meeting the NHS advice to eat 5 fruit or vegetables a day. But as Secretary of State for Health you have an opportunity to do something about this with the School Fruit and Vegetables Scheme (SFVS). The SFVS, has been proven to increase fruit consumption among participating children. However, this positive impact diminishes after year 2, when children no longer have access to free fruit and vegetables during school hours. By extending the scheme up to year 6, healthier eating habits will have longer to embed and thus persist as children leave primary school.
You could improve the diets of all 4.7 million state-funded primary school children and support high quality British farming at the same time, by expanding the scheme and favouring seasonal British produce. The current scheme is heavily reliant on imported fruit and vegetables which have been shown of poor quality in both texture and taste. The higher than average levels of pesticide residues found in the scheme also raise serious concerns about the safety of the scheme's produce.
Only half of the apples come from the UK, and none of the pears nor tomatoes are domestically sourced. Why are we leaving it to other countries to provide the scheme's produce, when it could be freshly sourced from the UK? Currently, 49% of fruit and vegetable farmers fearing business closure within the next 12 months, so expanding the SFVS scheme and prioritising British produce could also save livelihoods.
I'd kindly ask your support in advocating for the following changes to the scheme:
By enacting these changes, you could improve children’s diets and create a healthier, more sustainable future for them, while supporting our struggling farming sector. Your leadership on this would be much appreciated
Thank you for your time and consideration.