Children all across Ireland will receive milk, fruit and vegetables under the EU's School Scheme in 2019/2020.
This programme reached over 20 million children across the EU during the school year 2017/2018.
In Ireland, €2.2 million is being made available in the EU Budget for fruit and vegetables and over €1 million for milk. More than 62,000 children across all schools took part in the scheme in 2017/18, which is the latest evaluation report available. Educational activity in Ireland included farm visits and lesson plans.
The national budget allocations for the EU school fruit, vegetable and milk schemes for the 2019/2020 school year was adopted at European level. €145 million is set aside for fruit and vegetables, along with €105 million for milk and other dairy products across the EU. The distribution programme is complemented by educational measures that teach children about agriculture and promotes healthy eating.
Praising the scheme, Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune said: “This is a great scheme from the EU, which not only provides healthy food to young people but also teaches them about the importance of healthy eating. They will learn about where our food comes from and it will go a long way to establishing healthy eating habits from a young age."
Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune
The Commission said that for the 2017/2018 school year, around 159,000 schools participated in the EU School Scheme around Europe. During that time, a total of 255,500 tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables and 178 million litres of milk were distributed to European children thanks to more than €182 million from the EU budget.
Ireland 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, and agricultural quality schemes.