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Minister Sargent welcomes EU proposal for school fruit scheme

Mr. Trevor Sargent T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, today welcomed the European Commission proposal to establish an EU scheme to provide free fruit and vegetables to schoolchildren. The proposal is the outcome of the Commission undertaking to Ministers in June 2007 during negotiations on the reform of the EU Fruit and Vegetables regime. It has been sent to the Council and the European Parliament for deliberation and decision with the aim of having legislation adopted in time for the 2009/2010 school year. The Commission is proposing that Member States opting to participate in the EU Scheme will be required to match the EU funding and to set up additional national strategies including educational and awareness-raising initiatives.

Minister Sargent said that effectively encouraging children to eat more fruit and vegetables has long-term benefits as both children and adults are currently consuming less than five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables a day recommended for good health. The National "Food Dudes" programme rolled out to national schools following a successful pilot in 2005 works on the principle of repeated encouragement to taste and enjoy fruit and vegetables. Managed by Bord Bia and funded by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the programme will reach some 625 schools and 85,000 children this year.

Date Released: 10 July 2008