At its plenary meeting in Strasbourg on 25 February, the European Parliament adopted MEP Emer Costello’s report on a new Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAMD). The proposal is due to be definitely adopted by the EU’s Council of Ministers in the coming weeks. EPHA has been active on the issue from a public health perspective with a view to ensuring the programme distributes nutritious foods that contribute to good health of the most vulnerable.
Whilst welcoming the adoption of the report and its budget specifications, EPHA regrets its weak stance on what types of foods are to be distributed to the most deprived people in Europe. Predominantly focused on the funds allocation, operational and accountancy proceedings, the only explicit reference to the public health objectives advocated for by EPHA could be identified as: "Where appropriate, the choice of the type of food products to be distributed shall be made having considered their contribution to the balanced diet of the most deprived persons." (see provisory texts adopted). While the text specifically mentions types of "basic goods" eligible for provision to the homeless ("shoes, soap and shampoo"), no such direction is given to food products - which could be for example, (fresh) fruit and vegetables, legumes and wholegrains.
In 2012, 125 million people living in Europe were living in poverty and social exclusion. Nearly 50 million of them live in extreme material deprivation. There are an estimated 4.1 million homeless people in the EU, including young people, migrants and families with children. Evidence shows that the most vulnerable, excluded and people on low-incomes, eat less well, pay relatively more for what they get in terms of nutritional value and suffer disproportionately more from the vast and rising health inequalities due to poor and substandard diets.
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