Thursday, 1 April 2021
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
School Milk Scheme
380. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of schools and students participating in the school milk scheme in the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17688/21]
381. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the value of products provided here under the EU school milk scheme in each of the past five years in respect of the five heat-treated milk products under category 1 and category 2 of the scheme; the value of products that are provided here under the scheme for each of the past five years in respect of category 1 products that are heat-treated milk with chocolate, fruit juice or flavoured; if the value of products provided under category 1 are broken down in terms of the quantity and value provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17689/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 380 and 381 together.
As the Deputy may be aware, the EU School Milk Scheme, the main objective of which is to promote and encourage milk consumption amongst school children as part of a healthy balanced diet, is operated in Ireland by the National Dairy Council (NDC) through the Moo Crew Programme. The scheme is open to pre-schools, primary schools and secondary schools, and a portion of fresh drinking milk (189ml approximately) is distributed to each participating child on a daily basis. The Scheme is supported by strong educational accompanying measures to educate children about the health and nutritional benefits of milk. It has the support of a wide range of national stakeholders including the Department of Health and the Department of Education.
The Scheme is currently implemented under a six year EU School Scheme Strategy 2017-2023 (incorporating both the School Fruit and Vegetables Scheme and the School Milk Scheme). It is funded annually by the EU Commission with supporting national funding from my Department's budget as available.
The total EU budget for the scheme, in the period 2017-2023, is €250 million per school year of which up to €150 million is for fruit and vegetables and up to €100 million for milk. This budget is broken down by country based on the number of children, the level of regional development and, for milk, on how the budget was previously used. The annual EU allocation to Ireland is set by the European Commission at €900,398. However, it is open to Ireland to apply for additional Union aid under EU reallocation rules which may or may not be granted by the EU Commission as this is subject to availability. Within this allocation to a Member State, 75% is available to spend on product, the balance being made available on accompanying educational measures, publicity and evaluation.
The EU Commission adopts a decision to fix the EU budget by country for each school year. In Ireland, only fresh drinking milk as a priority, with the possibility of cheese and yogurts, are products authorised to be distributed here under the programme. This is in line with our six year Scheme Strategy 2017-2023 approved by the EU Commission and in line with the Healthy Eating Guidelines of the Department of Health. The distribution of other products in Ireland under the School Milk Scheme does not accordingly arise: no products such as heat-treated milk with chocolate, fruit juice or flavour were distributed.
The EU Scheme in its current format commenced in 2017 for school year 2017/2018.Ireland's EU allocation for School Milk, national funds and participation rates during this time period is as set out at the following link.
In addition to the EU funding and national Funding outlined above, a parental levy applies in non-DEIS schools.