Prague - Apples and bananas instead of chocolate bars and chips as snack for school kids. This is the new EU plan for school nutrition.
EU plans to spend EUR 90 million on fruit every year, but EU member states would have to pay the rest of the expenses to provide fruit for free to schools.
The EU's effort to fight obesity in children may be hampered by resistance of the Czech Republic and Great Britain that oppose the idea of "subsidized snacks".
Czech Agriculture Ministry believes it should be parents who take responsibility for the nutrition of their offsprings.
"Children learn the optimal nutritional behavior from parents, and this responsibility should not be shifted onto the European Community," the ministry explained.
"It is a waste"
Agriculture Minister Petr Gandalovič called the distribution of free fruit in schools a pure waste.
However, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Mariann Fischer-Boel praises the idea. "Too few children eat fruit and vegetables, and often they do not even realize how tasty they are."
The World Health Organization (WHO) claims that everybody should consume 400 grams of fruit and vegetables every day. Though, from the EU member states, only Greeks and Italians do so. Statistics for the Czech Republic are not available.
Milk in schools abandoned
The Free Fruit to School project should replace another program implemented in the Czech Republic: subsidized milk.
Milk subsidies introduced by the government of former Social Democratic leader Miloš Zeman were however abolished this August by the current Civic Democrat-led government.
This program is still running only on EU funds without the financial contribution of the Czech government.
Education Minister Ondřej Liška is another member of the government who does not like the EU's initiative to subsidize snacks. Instead of free fruit to schools, Liška would prefer an overall change in the nutrition regime of Czech children.