The distribution of 53 tonnes of free cheese to volunteer organisations is under way nationwide.

The scheme was announced by Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith a number of weeks ago.

It aims to assist those who are living in poor circumstances during the Christmas period.

The European Commission had originally set aside 350 tonnes of butter for the scheme, but this had been exchanged for 315 tonnes of cheese this year.

The cheese is available in 12 x 1kg boxes from stores in Clondalkin, Portlaoise, Kilmacthomas, Cobh and Togher with a minimum of one box per collection.

In Dublin, the cheese is available from Trailercare Holdings, 41-43 Robinhood Industrial Estate, Clondalkin.

The two Cork locations are Orchard Warehousing, Cobh Cross, and Colso Enterprises in Togher.

QK Cold Store, Carroll's Cross, Kilmacthomas is the Waterford location, while Lyonara Cold Store, Clonminam Industrial Estate, Portlaoise, is the other location.