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Minister Sargent Welcomes Progress Towards School Fruit Scheme

Mr Trevor Sargent TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, welcomed the progress made at the Council of Ministers meeting in Luxembourg last week towards agreement on the Commission proposal to establish an EU Scheme for distribution of fruit and vegetables in schools. The measure is expected to be adopted when the European Parliament has given its opinion on the proposal and the scheme will commence in the 2009-2010 school year. Minister Sargent said that the scheme will encourage more children to taste and enjoy more fruit and vegetables and thereby reap the long-term benefits of consuming at least five portions a day recommended for good health as both children and adults. The proposed scheme is closely modelled on the very successful Irish "Food Dude" Scheme.

The funding to be provided by the EU is limited as it is intended as an encouragement to Member States to implement national schemes. Work has commenced on planning to get optimum value from our expected funding.

Minister Sargent said that he was delighted with all measures to encourage children to grow and eat fruit and vegetables. The level of interest in the "Meet the Spuds" potato growing challenge that marked the International Year of the Potato was outstanding and he was pleased to see it has been shortlisted by the Guild of Agricultural Journalists for its biannual awards.

Date Released: 04 November 2008