Doyle urges schools to avail of EU healthy eating habits scheme

Wicklow Fine Gael TD and Ireland South European candidate Andrew Doyle has urged Irish schools to avail of the EU School Scheme to promote healthy eating habits.

Ireland is set to benefit from over €3 million from the EU School Fruit, Vegetable and Milk Scheme. Doyle emphasised that all primary schools in Ireland need to register to ensure every pupil the benefits of healthy eating.

“Half of Irish children aged between 5 and 12 years old are not eating the daily requirements for fresh fruit and vegetables or milk. It’s really important that children enjoy a balanced diet and obviously fruit and vegetables are an important element of a balanced diet.”

“This scheme is there to help schools assist by distributing these healthy food products, while delivering educational programmes about how food is produced and the importance of good nutrition.”

“For the coming 2019-2020 academic year, Ireland is to receive over €3.3 million from the EU school fruit, vegetables and milk scheme – €2,266,887 for the provision of fruit and vegetables and €1,039,137 for milk,” said Doyle.

Doyle also mentioned the major downturn in the number of children consuming milk at schools, highlighting a pilot model he intends to introduce to combat the decline in these numbers.

“The number of schools participating in the School Milk Scheme has been declining. In fact, in the eight years prior to the 2017/2018 academic year, the number of schools participating dropped by over 50%.”

“Some reasons identified as a cause for this include an increase in water consumption among children. But a major barrier identified to participation in this scheme is the charge levied to parents. Participation levels in schools which did not charge a parental levy were on average 400% greater than schools that did charge a parental levy.”

“A pilot model has been to eliminate this charge in order to encourage children to avail of portions of milk, yoghurt and cheese. I am hopeful that this year’s EU funding allocation for this programme will see this pilot of free dairy produce rolled out on a broader basis around the country,” added Doyle.

Doyle concluded by stating that he believes all principals should register with these schemes, mentioning that it is never too early to learn about good food and nutrition.

“I encourage all school Principals to register their schools to participate in these schemes. It is never too early to learn about the production and health benefits of good food, and this learning should be happening in the classroom, as well as at home,” concluded Doyle.

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