Ireland has been allocated €913,548 under the Schools Fruit Scheme for 2014/’15, designed to increase the consumption of fruit and vegetables among school children.

As part of the Scheme, Member States must match the EU funding amount, either nationally or through private contributions.

The decision to give approval to the final national envelope takes into account the increase in EU funds available for the Scheme from €90 million to €150 million, that was agreed in the context of the CAP 2020 reform.

In addition to financing the distribution of fruits and vegetables in school, the funds will for the first time also be used for accompanying educational measures aimed at increasing fruit and vegetables consumption, so as to shape healthier eating habits.

The formal decision will be adopted by the Commission in the coming weeks. In 2012/2013, 8.6 million children received fruit and vegetables at school in participating Member States. This was a 6% increase compared to 2011/2012].

This will be the sixth year of the Scheme’s application since its launch in 2009 and 25 Member States have confirmed their participation in the programme with only Sweden, Finland and the UK opting out.

The Scheme is an important EU-wide initiative in efforts to encourage healthier eating habits amongst school children as they are more likely to become lifelong habits if developed at an early age. Improved nutrition plays an important role in combating health problems related to poor nutrition, such as child obesity. Overweight and obesity are real concerns: in 2010 the WHO estimated that around 1 in 3 children between 6 and 9 in the EU are overweight or obese. This trend is increasing as the estimates for 2008 were one in four.