The coming weeks are important for future generations. The European Commission is open to a revision of the EU system for school fruit, vegetables and milk. This scheme provides schools with grants to offer these types of products to children in order to help them eat healthy. Plant-based alternatives are not yet included in this scheme, despite the fact that 61 percent of Dutch people are in favor of this initiative. Oatmeal producer Oatly and partner ProVeg International will encourage Dutch people to speak out in favor of a more inclusive EU school system, giving more children the opportunity to develop future-proof diets. To make your voice heard, ProVeg International, with the support of Oatly and other organizations and companies, has launched a petition on schoolmilk.org.
The school milk scheme in our country dates back to the 1930s and has given many children milk. It is estimated that 120,000 children in the Netherlands drink school milk. The subsidy, which is provided by the EU, was created, among other things, to support the dairy sector, and its effect is enormous. For example, the EU has budgeted 2.4 million euros in taxpayers’ money for the coming school year to support cow’s milk under the school system. The idea that cow’s milk is the only option is old – fashioned and stems from outdated ideas about the necessity of animal products in our diet.
Learned early is made old
Our global food system is responsible for as much as a third of man – made emissions. Fifty percent of this comes from the animal industry. Change seems to be needed. Eating habits developed in childhood, including in school, have a huge impact on children’s food choices later in life. The younger children come into contact with healthy and sustainable diets, the greater the positive impact on the climate. In addition, the inclusion of plant-based beverages makes the scheme more inclusive. Not all children want or can participate in the scheme because they do not drink cow’s milk, for example due to the climate, religion or diet.
Holland votes for plant-based
The EU school system also supports pedagogical measures. It can be about teaching materials, but also farm visits, school gardens, tastings, cooking workshops, theme days or games. A survey commissioned by Oatly shows that 67 percent of Dutch people consider it important for children to learn about sustainable eating habits in school. In addition, 61 percent agree that children develop more sustainable eating habits when they are introduced to plant-based foods in school. In addition, a large proportion of Dutch people believe that governments and public institutions should do more to inform children about a plant-based diet. Only 15 percent disagree.
A future to look forward to
“The future of our children and grandchildren depends on the decisions we make today. The need for policies that support more plant-based diets to tackle climate change is recognized by the IPCC. We simply cannot afford to pay a subsidy that supports animal feed standards and “does not take into account the needs of all children. The climate crisis is unfolding before our eyes and there is no time to wait, we must act. I urge politicians to include plant-based beverages in the school milk scheme,” said Cecilia McAleavey, Director of Public Affairs and Sustainable Food at Oatly.
Let’s hear you
The public consultation on the EU school system runs until 27 July on the EU Commission’s website. To show the support of EU citizens to include plant-based beverages in the EU school system, ProVeg International, with the support of Oatly and other plant-based organizations and companies, is launching a petition on schoolmilk.org. ProVeg International is a fund aimed at speeding up the transition to a plant-based food system.