FPC campaigns to save school fruit scheme

The Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC) has launched a campaign to secure the future of the School Fruit & Vegetable Scheme.

It is urging all businesses in-volved in the scheme, which provides two million children in more than 16,000 schools with a free piece of fruit or vegetable every day, to write to their local MP emphasising its many benefits.

The FPC launched its campaign by writing to the Government earlier this summer urging it to maintain its support of the scheme after learning that it could fall prey to spending cuts.

But the response it received from the Department of Health said that no decision had been taken with regard to the primary care trusts' (PCTs) funding of the scheme and that it depended on the outcome of the next spending review.

The FPC said in a statement: "We do not believe that this is an acceptable response and we have written back to Anne Milton, the minister, and also to the prime minister to raise our concerns about the future of the scheme directly."

As part of its campaign, the FPC is also urging the Government to retain the scheme's central procurement strategy rather than devolve the management of the scheme to the individual PCTs.

As reported in Grower on 23 July, PCTs became responsible for the ongoing finance for the delivery of the scheme in their areas from 1 April this year.

Companies that are involved have been provided with a template letter they can sign and send to local MPs to enlist their support for the scheme. Fresh produce companies are also being encouraged to contact schools.

The FPC said: "It's important that we sustain this in the build up to the spending review in October and we shall also be enlisting support from health campaigners."

- To participate in the campaign, email sian@freshproduce.org.uk

TEMPLATE LETTER

The template letter for coalition MPs states: "I am sure that you will wish to avoid the backlash from local businesses, schools, parents and health campaigners which will arise from any destruction of this highly successful scheme.

"For the sake of the cost of around 10 pence a day surely your party will want to avoid being branded in a similar vein to that of the 'milk snatcher' Government?"

The template for Labour and other MPs states: "I am sure that you will add your opposition to any move by this Government to snatch fresh produce away from young children."


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