200,000 Irish school children receive €3.3m of fruit, vegetables and milk through EU scheme

Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

Ireland is to receive over €3.3m from the EU school fruit, vegetables and milk scheme for the coming school year.

Last year, some 198, 213 children of 1.1m eligible school children benefited from the scheme last year, through 1,345 schools.

Under the scheme there was €2,266,887 allocated for the provision of fruit and vegetables and €1,039,137 for milk.

The new national budget allocations were adopted today by the European Commission. The distribution programme will be complemented by educational measures that teach children about agriculture and promotes healthy eating.

Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan said: "Thanks to the EU School Scheme, our young citizens can benefit from the nutritious, safe and high quality food that our European farmers produce, while also learning about where it comes from. The Commission is proud to contribute to this important educational journey, establishing healthy habits from a young age."

The Commission also published today an evaluation report which shows that for the 2017/2018 school year around 159,000 schools participated in the EU school scheme. The Ireland evaluation report showed that almost 200,000 children in 1,345 schools took part in the scheme in 2017/18.

Countries wishing to take part in the EU school scheme must notify the Commission by the end of January with their request for support. The indicative allocation of the EU budget to each Member State is based on the number of schoolchildren in each country and, for milk, on the take-up of the previous scheme.

National authorities are free to transfer a proportion (20-25pc) of the budget allocated from one sector to the other. They can also notify their willingness to spend more than the amount of aid requested if other Member States decline to take up their full allocation.

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In addition, Member States can decide on the way to implement the scheme, including what agricultural products children will receive or the themes of the educational measures rolled out. They also have the option to top up EU funds with national funds to finance the scheme.

The choice of products distributed is based on health and environmental considerations, seasonality, variety and availability. Member States may encourage local or regional purchasing, organic products, short supply chains, environmental benefits, agricultural quality schemes.

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