FARMERS have welcomed the extension of a healthy eating experiment for school children, encouraging them to munch on a tomato or raw carrot during their morning breaks.
The aim of the Government-run National School Fruit Scheme is to wean children away from sweets, crisps and fizzy drinks, which lead to obesity and, according to new research, can cause violent and criminal behaviour.
The NFU has lobbied hard for vegetables to be included in the scheme, which the Department of Health began in 2000 as a crucial element in the drive to increase the consumption of healthy foods among young people.
A number of schools in Sheffield and Merseyside will act as pilot studies, where 4-6 year olds will be provided with a tomato, carrot or a portion of fruit each day of the school year.
British growers will be supplying the vegetables to the scheme, which is being funded with £42 million from the National Lottery.
NFU Vice President Michael Paske said: "We are extremely pleased that the Department of Health has included vegetables in the scheme.
"It is essential that school children are given the best start to healthy eating. To this end, the fresh produce that British growers provide can give youngsters the best introduction to both the goodness and good taste that vegetables can bring."