"Both of these bills are wrapped and bound up with a ribbon," said Margo Wootan, the center's director of nutrition policy. "What we were saying is maybe do them back-to-back — do a food week."
Wootan said Congress likely will extend the child nutrition program if the bill doesn't pass before it expires Oct. 1. But a simple extension won't include the reforms in Lincoln's bill. These were highlighted in plastic plates the costumed children handed out to lawmakers, including Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). The reforms include:
• Removing junk food from school vending machines;
• $300 million a year in new meal reimbursements for schools;
• Improvements to nutrition and physical activity in school and child care settings;
• Free meals for an extra 120,000 low-income children a year;
• New ways to offer universal free meals for 2,500 schools.
Photo: Maden Murray (the grape), age 4, and her sister Davan Murray (the carrot), age 6, hand out plates to senators and staffers outside the Senate Dirksen office building urging them to vote this month for child nutrition legislation. "Don't leave kids with an empty plate!" the plates urge lawmakers.