What is the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme?

The School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme is a government programme that entitles every child in fully state-funded schools to a free piece of fruit or vegetable each school day. The fruit and vegetables are provided at no extra cost to the school. The Department of Health and the Department for Education pays for the Scheme.

Are we eligible to join the scheme?

If you would like to join the Scheme, Please use the contact form on the Contact Page. We will then reply and begin the process.

How do we set up the scheme in school?

Your school can decide the best way to give the produce to the children. There are very few absolute requirements. Your school will need to appoint a School Fruit and Vegetable Co-ordinator to oversee the implementation of the scheme in your school and to act as a point of contact.

Before joining the scheme you will be asked to provide details of the numbers of eligible pupils in your school. You will need to inform your distributor of any changes in future terms.

My school would like additional fruit for key stage 2 pupils.

Key Stage 2 pupils are only eligible to join the scheme if there is a mixed class with both Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 pupils. If one pupil is eligible for the scheme in the class, then the whole class can receive the fruit and vegetables.

If you wish to purchase additional fruit for Key Stage 2, and MWW is your distributor, please contact us on 0800 612 5292 (option 2).

Why not source all of your produce from the UK?

We are keen to explore ways of maximising locally grown fruit to the SFVS, however, this must be balanced with product safety, traceability and quality. A benefit of the current system is that we can trace each individual piece of fruit or vegetable back to the supplier and ultimately the grower that it was sourced from. In addition to this, some fruit (eg. satsumas and bananas) cannot be grown in the UK, so must be sourced from warmer climates and other types of fruit that are grown in the UK, such as apples and pears, may only be available at certain times of the year.

We want to ensure that children, wherever they are in the country, continue to have access to fruit and vegetables of comparable quality and variety to the current supply arrangements.

How do you ensure your suppliers use minimal amounts of pesticides?

The SFVS does not supply organic pesticide free produce, however all produce is safe to eat and any pesticide residue below the legal requirements.

The Department of Health, NHS SC and the suppliers have sufficient due diligence in place to minimise any risk to the end user and work with HSE to safeguard that produce consumed under the SFVS is both safe to eat and nutritious. The produce currently supplied to the SFVS is sourced from growers working according to the principles of Integrated Crop Management, where pesticide inputs are minimised. The majority of the produce for the SFVS has been sourced from Assured Produce in the UK or Eurep-Gap certified farms, in line Good Agricultural Practice. This involves the reduction of chemicals in the production of fresh produce.

The scheme provides safe and nutritious produce and any pesticide use is monitored. The view of the Food Standards Agency and the Pesticides Safety Directorate is that the residues found on fruit and vegetables provided under the SFVS are neither of concern for children’s health nor consumer
health generally. A continuous programme of testing for pesticide residues has been established in partnership with the HDE, which ensures that the fruit and vegetables provided by the scheme have the same or less pesticide residues than produce sold in retail outlets in line with the national food chain testing programme. Our distribution chain also allows for full traceability to growers. The programme is managed with the support of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affair’s Pesticides Safety Directorate who review the results via the Pesticide Residues Committee and publishes them on their website www.pesticides.gov.uk

Our guidance to schools is that all fruit and vegetables with edible skins should be washed thoroughly before consumption. This guidance is in line with advice supplied by the Food Standards Agency. We are aware of many schools who encourage children to wash their own fruit under supervision to develop their sense of autonomy. Other schools work with their kitchen staff to wash the fruit or in many instances fruit was washed for the children by employees in the school. You may be interested to know that we do not require fruit or vegetables to be peeled as the washing is for reasons of hygiene not to remove pesticides. The Food Standards Agency advise that although washing and peeling may help remove residues of certain pesticides, most residues are systemic which means that they are found throughout the product and would be unaffected by peeling or washing. In addition to this, we prefer to ensure any residues are within safety limits at the outset and would strongly disagree with an approach that relied on washing and peeling alone to guarantee product safety.

The scheme has been set up to look at the objective of improving the health of the children. One of the key drivers is to increase the consumption of fruit and vegetables. The Food Standards Agency have advised there is no direct health benefit in providing organic fruit and vegetables to children, therefore the scheme does not see it as a requirement from suppliers during the tendering process.

Why doesn’t the SFVS source only organic produce?

Organic suppliers are welcome to tender for supply, however there was no interest from such growers during the last tender exercise.

What happens if there is a child or an adult in the school who is allergic to a particular product?

Please contact the customer care team on 0800 612 5292.

Why should we join the scheme?

The scheme is a government funded scheme which has been running since 2004 with, at the last count, over 99% of schools taking part, which is around 16,500 schools. The aim of the programme is to increase fruit and vegetable consumption by providing a free piece of fruit or a vegetable to Key Stage One pupils every day.

The latest NHS Health Survey for England (2017) shows that the current portions of fruit /vegetables consumed per child is 3.2 per day. Between 2001 and 2004 the mean number of portions of fruit and vegetables consumed among children aged 5 to 15 was stable between 2.5 and 2.7 portions. The aim of the Scheme is to increase this. We hope that by educating the children about the benefits of healthy eating, they will continue to eat healthily in the future.

Why do we need the Scheme?

Every child deserves a healthy start in life. A child’s diet can be an important influence on their life now and in the future. There is clear and growing evidence that eating at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day can help protect against chronic diseases such as heart disease and certain cancers.

By providing 4-6 year old children with an extra portion of fruit or vegetables each school day, along with a positive and enjoyable experience of produce, the scheme encourages children to develop a positive attitude towards fruit and vegetables. Eating patterns acquired in early childhood are likely to continue into adolescence and adulthood.

Who is paying for the SFVS?

The Department of Health, and later the Department for Education as well, have paid the total costs of the scheme since it was available to all schools in early 2005.



How long is it envisage that the Scheme will run?

The SFVS is subject to treasury review. The current tender runs until 2020.