European schoolchildren could soon receive free fruit at school as part of an EU effort to keep them from becoming overweight, according to a European Commission proposal due on Tuesday.
EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel aims to get a budget of 90 million euros (141 million dollars) per year to finance the programme, one official said.
The proposal, which the commission was to adopt formally later Tuesday, would use fruit that would be otherwise taken off the market for destruction in order to maintain stable prices.
It also intends to provide healthy snacks to fight the growing problem of overweight children, who are thought to number 22 million in the 27-nation bloc. Of that number, five million are considered severely overweight.
EU member states would also be called upon to help finance the programme, which mirrors a similar project for distributing milk in schools.
The commission wants each country to match EU funds provided for the programme with their own financing, although poorer countries would not have provide as much.
The EU's executive arm tried to launch the programme last year but had to postpone because it was unable to get the financing in place.