Demand rose for EU-funded charity cheese, butter and rice in 2013
A total of 563 Irish charities have taken part in an EU-funded scheme providing free cheese, butter and rice to those in need, as demand increased.
Throughout 2013, the Most Deprived Persons Scheme distributed 650 metric tonnes (mts) of cheese, butter and rice across Ireland.
This is comprised of 260 mts of cheese, 120 mts of butter and 250 mts of rice.
This is an increase of 211 mts since 2011. The food is distributed across Ireland by the Department of Agriculture, which delivers in to cold storage units where the charities can collect it.
A further 150 charities took part in the scheme this year, which saw more than €2.5 million EU-funded food coming to Ireland.
Spain received the most free food, with around €85.6 million out of a total of €500 million going to the country.
Nineteen EU countries take part in the scheme, with some countries, including the United Kingdom and Germany, not participating.
Some charities, including certain branches of St Vincent de Paul, put the food in Christmas hampers for those in need.