An EU scheme distributing food to the needy through the Department of Agriculture has been discontinued, but will be replaced by the EU’s Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived, which will be administered by the Department of Social Protection.
The Most Deprived Scheme was managed by the Department of Agriculture, and participation had steadily increased since 2007, says Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney.
“Over the period 2007 to 2014, some €5m worth of product has been distributed in 1.8m individual parcels to those most-in-need.
“The 563 charities who participated in the scheme this year availed of cheese, rice and butter.”
Reponding to a Dáil question from Socialist Party TD for Dublin West, Joe Higgins, Mr Coveney said: “The scheme, in its current form, has now been discontinued, as, and from, June this year.
“The rationale of linking the scheme with intervention stocks is no longer valid, as there has been no surplus product bought into intervention for the last number of years.
“However, in March, 2014, the European Council and Parliament agreed a regulation to introduce a new Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) to support the provision of food and consumer products to those most in need.
“The fund will contribute to the reduction of poverty by supporting national schemes that provide non-financial assistance to alleviate food and severe material deprivation.”
He said the Department of Social Protection had commenced development of the new programme.
Tanaiste and Social Protection Minister Joan Burton said the programme will go operational later this year, and will be worth €3m per annum in Ireland, supporting voluntary organisations and other bodies working with, and providing services to, those most in need.
The regulation governing operation of the fund allows for food, and non-food, consumable goods to be distributed to persons who are most disadvantaged.
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