Annually, nearly 3,000 schools participate in the EU School Fruit Programme. Participating schools receive three pieces of fruit and vegetables for every pupil every week for 20 weeks. Schoolfruit.nl represents five of the eight suppliers, and takes care of purchasing and distribution for these parties. “By means of actions we make it fun to eat fruit and vegetables, and we hope to increase the importance of school fruit this way,” says Jasper van Roon of Schoolfruit.nl.
Every week, 1,800 primary schools receive fruit and vegetables via Schoolfruit.nl. Because of this, the school fruit supplier provides more than 310,000 children with a healthy snack. Schoolfruit.nl represents five of the eight acknowledged suppliers of the EU School Fruit Programme. These suppliers – Coolrunnings, DN Promotions, Fruit for Kids, JVR & Me and Silversands – can be recognised by the colour of the boxes the school fruit is supplied in. As franchiser, Schoolfruit.nl provides support for online activities, administration, marketing et cetera. The collective purchasing and logistics are also organised by Schoolfruit.nl. “Our packing station at Boer Erik in Loenen aan de Vecht, packs one million pieces of fruit and vegetables every week. The 225 unique pallets are then picked up by 11 lorries to be spread to about 30 hubs, from where 100 vans deliver the boxes of Schoolfruit.nl to schools on Monday and Tuesday.”
Surprising and informative
The contents of the school fruit boxes is mostly predetermined, but Schoolfruit.nl also buys products on the free market every week. The schools preferably receive two pieces of fruit and one vegetable every week. “For some products, we have permanent growers such as apples and pears from Boer Erik, radish from Zülküf Yilmaz, and carrot from Bert Benedictus,” Jasper says. “Besides, we buy fruit and vegetables from wholesalers. We have a good cooperation with Lukassen AGF and Olympic Food Group. They’re also making a case for school fruit, and they think along with us. Because of this, we can sometimes supply products that wouldn’t normally be offered to schools due to their price or availability.”
The different products and varieties make it challenging, according to Jasper. “We want to continue surprising and informing children. This year, we offer Dutch gherkins again, a product many children only know from jars. We recently also had pomelos. This is a fairly unknown product, but it looks great and tastes like citrus.” Schoolfruit.nl tries to make use of the Dutch supply as much as possible, with an exception for products such as citrus, bananas and grapes. According to Jasper, the current supply can be utilised even better. Many products now come from cooled and low-oxygen storage. “By having the EU School Fruit Programme start earlier, more use can be made of the Dutch supply. That way, children learn about the seasons at the same time. It looks as if the programme will start earlier as of the 2019/20 school year.”
Continuing to stimulate school fruit
Besides supplying free school fruit to participating schools, Schoolfruit.nl also has commercial customers. Of the schools participating in the EU School Fruit Programme, only five per cent continued their school fruit policy by working with the supplier last year. “This number has to rise,” Jasper says. The school fruit supplier is hoping 500 schools will join the programme. Schoolfruit.nl offers three different packages, varying in weight and price. “Costs shouldn’t be a restrictive factor. Schools can also think of alternative ways to finance school fruit, such as a family contribution, a charity walk or a subsidy.” To this end, a financing tool was developed, and schools can use this free of charge: schijfvanvijf.school. Twelve agents of Schoolfruit.nl are on the road nationwide, and they support schools in their search for financing and their choices for a healthy, daily snack at 10 AM.
“Besides, we looked into it, and our model is cheaper than when schools buy and distribute their own fruit. Moreover, children would miss out on eating the fruit in class, which stimulates tasting and experiencing.” Jasper emphasises the importance of experience. According to him, much more is possible when education and fun are combined. “For example, a class trip to Aardbeienland or Tomato World, participating in a fruit picking day with the entire class or organising guest classes in which product information comes first. It should mostly be fun for children to eat fruit and vegetables. We would like to help schools with that.”
For some years, Schoolfruit.nl has cooperated with Universal Pictures. The promotions of children’s films coupled with fruit and vegetables are bearing fruit. The latest promotion on Facebook, with which movie tickets for the new Peter Rabbit movie could be won, resulted in more than 5,000 responses and reached as many as one million people. “A promotion like that results in much attention for Schoolfruit.nl, and it has a large and focused reach,” Jasper says. “In future, we want to focus more on the parents of children of school age rather than school headmasters, with whom we now communicate a lot. Once parents see the importance and convenience of school fruit, we can expect to book more results.”
Jasper van Roon