What are Pieno vaikams and fruit and vegetable programs in Lithuania


Recently, in the organization of Gyvi Gali Public Enterprise, we took steps to include plant-based milk products in the program in the European Union, which supplies fruits, vegetables and dairy products to educational institutions. In the article, we share more information about what the program is, how it works in Lithuania and why we think it is important to improve it. 

When the European Commission noticed that the consumption of fruits, vegetables and milk in the European Union does not reach international standards, and the consumption of heavily processed food, which is rich in sugar, salt, fat and additives, is only increasing, measures were sought to encourage children to eat healthy. In order to improve the overall public health, it is necessary to form proper eating habits from childhood, so the most favorable place for this is educational institutions. For this purpose, a program for promoting the consumption of fruits and vegetables and milk and milk products in children's educational institutions (hereinafter referred to as the Program) was created.


in 2004 The "Milk for vaikams" program was launched in Lithuania, which aimed to increase the consumption of milk and milk products in children's nutrition. Although recently there is an increase in the number of nutritionists who take a critical view of the consumption of animal milk, however Participants of the "Milk for Children" program are educated about the health benefits of these products. According to our data, children in this program were not and are not introduced to and are not offered alternatives to plant products, which in many cases can also contribute to a healthier lifestyle for children, and are also suitable for use by children who are lactose intolerant. 

in 2009 to start supplying fruits as well, and in 2017 September 1 The program for the promotion of the consumption of fruits and vegetables and milk and milk products in children's educational institutions came into force, which combined and continued the initiative of promoting a healthy lifestyle in educational institutions. In this way, it is expected to increase the consumption of not only milk and milk products, but also fruits and vegetables, to instill in children an understanding of the impact of these products on health, to introduce them to sustainable agriculture and to encourage sustainable food consumption. In our opinion, the information presented in the program is one-sided and does not reflect the whole that children should be introduced to. For example, it lists animal milk as one of the most important sources of calcium, despite the fact that some scientific studies show that milk can increase the risk of osteoporosis, increase the risk of acne in children and adolescents, etc. 

The target group of the program is pre-school and primary school students who are supplied with products grown and produced organically or according to the national agricultural and food quality system: apples, carrots, pears, juice, milk, yogurt and cheese.

At the same time, special lessons, cooking courses, educational competitions and quizzes, trips to horticultural and dairy farms are held. 

Children's educational activities cover a wide range of topics: healthy nutrition, a variety of fruits and vegetables, the benefits of physical health and exercise, reducing food waste, etc. In this way, children are introduced not only to the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and products, but also to the cycle of products reaching the children's "table". However, the trends seen here to portray dairy farms as safe and good places for animals are also out of step with reality. Children are trained to see animals as machines designed to meet human needs, regardless of their cognitive abilities or basic needs. 

And although the surveys show that the majority of representatives of educational institutions (89%) agree that the Program has a positive effect on children's habits, we believe that this does not reflect the changing trends and the needs of the children themselves.


According to 2021 - 2022 Statistics of Lithuania 1495 educational institutions and 230 thousand students participated in the program. of children (the numbers are slightly lower than in recent years due to the quarantine and the reduction of general education institutions). 

2017 - 2022 19 t of pears, 4982 t of apples, 286 t of carrots, 940 thousand l of juice, 6218 thousand l of milk, 205 t of cheese and 2212 t of yogurt. In the academic year 2017-2022, 20 million was used for the distribution of products under the Program. EUR, of which 51 percent consisted of EU support funds, and 49 percent – national funds. 

Unfortunately, the funding of the milk part of the program in 2017-2022 was higher than the fruit and vegetable portion of the Program. Evaluating the proportions of funds used, as much as 71 percent was used for the milk and milk products part of the Program in 2017-2018 mm. of the total financing, and for the share of fruit and vegetable products - 26.8 percent. And although, fortunately, this gap was decreasing in 2021-2022 mm, the funding used for the share of milk and milk products was still 19 percent. higher than the fruit and vegetable part of the Program (2.10 million euros and 1.77 million euros). 

From our point of view, this distribution is inappropriate and in the long run we expect to see the majority of funds allocated to the supply of fruit and vegetables, while the milk budget is allocated to giving children the opportunity to choose from plant-based alternatives.


We see that the EU and nationally funded Program aims not only at positive changes in public health, as it claims, but also at stabilizing the milk production market by creating a constant demand for dairy products in the country (raising generations that consume a lot of dairy products). It is clear that the program funds are deliberately promoting the development of dairy farms without considering the health of consumers or the impact on nature. 

Knowing that animal husbandry is one of the most polluting industries, "Living Can" together with our umbrella organization European Vegetarian Union we aim to include plant-based milk alternatives in the Program. The inclusion of these products would not only contribute to sustainability, but would also open new doors for farmers and children who, for various reasons, do not want or cannot consume milk and milk products. We wrote more about our arguments why this is important here.  

The text was prepared by Milda Zibalaitė



Institutional change activities in the organization are financed by the project "NGO Gyvi Gali Institutional Strengthening" from the Ministry of Social Security and Labour.

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