Charity scheme to allocate €1.2m of cheese for needy
THE Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has confirmed that, as part of an EU-funded scheme, next year's allocation of free cheese to people in need will be worth €1.2m.
The department recently put out a tender to find producers to make tonnes of cheese to distribute free to charities in 2012.
The free cheese is part of a scheme to help the needy. It has been running for around 20 years but was only publicised for the first time last year, when it was criticised as being "ridiculous".
"Fianna Fail and the Greens gouda be kidding," Andrew Doyle, Fine Gael's agriculture spokesperson, said at the time.
"People on the breadline would rather the government's unfeta'd attention was on solving the economic crisis they caused and providing jobs rather than on this ridiculous announcement," he added.
However, the then government called Mr Doyle's remarks "insensitive". It said people had benefited from the scheme in the past and would continue to do so.
Last year the State was given more than €818,000 from the EU to buy the cheese and the Irish Dairy Board won the tender to supply it. So far this year, 396 charities have availed of free cheese. The department said it expects the demand in 2012 to exceed that of this year.
Next year, charities will have to apply for a permit from the department and the charities themselves will decide on individual allocations.
The department also confirmed it was not considering any other similar schemes to provide free produce to disadvantaged people.