The Green Schools Programme is a positive and important initiative for schools. However, I have concerns regarding the suggestions contained within the Climate Action Teacher Resources pack regarding reductions the consumption of meat and dairy products. These suggestions appear inconsistent with the Food Pyramid guidelines in Healthy Ireland, the national framework for action to improve health and wellbeing.
The Healthy Ireland Food Pyramid, published by the Department of Health, recommends that children aged 9-18 years of age consume five portions of dairy each day, given the importance of calcium during this life stage to support the development of healthy bones and teeth. Red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and nuts also provide protein essential for growth and repair, and they are also the main source of iron for healthy blood. Two servings a day from this food shelf are recommended in the Healthy Ireland Food Pyramid.
My Department runs the EU School Milk Scheme in national schools, in conjunction with the National Dairy Council. This scheme is carefully aligned with the Department of Health guidelines, and with the European Commission, which funds the School Milk Scheme with the objective of cultivating healthy eating habits at an early age. My officials are actively engaged in the on-going cross-Government collaboration on Healthy Ireland initiatives.