School fruit and vegetable scheme must be extended

16 July 2021
We have joined children’s health campaigners in writing to the Government seeking confirmation that the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme (SFVS) will be reinstated in September.

The SFVS provides a free piece of fruit or veg to every 4–6-year-old who attends state primary – around 2.3 million children. Given that around four in five children are not eating their 5-A-Day, this scheme is vital for ensuring nutrition. 

Giving children fruit and vegetables also allows them to try new tastes and textures, developing their senses. With 92% of teachers believing the scheme can increase children’s fruit and veg consumption, the SFVS seems like a no-brainer.

However, the scheme has not yet been signed off to continue after summer. As September gets closer, delaying the sign off could have an impact on this important safety net for our children’s health. This week, the Government’s own commissioned National Food Strategy (NFS) recommends they double the funding for the scheme, and so discontinuing it at this point is at odds with expert opinion on children’s health. And the government’s own evaluation of the scheme concluded that it increased consumption, encouraged children to try new fruit and vegetables that they might not have tried otherwise, and increased knowledge about healthy eating, particularly among children from deprived areas.

We have joined fellow school food and children’s health campaigners in writing to education and health ministers to seek clarification of when the SFVS will be reinstated, how they will respond to the NFS, and that they extend the scheme to all primary children. You can read the letter here.