Some congressional leaders are well aware of the problem. The House Education and Labor Committee last week approved an $8 billion proposal to expand eligibility for the country’s school meal programs and to take steps that ensure those meals are more nutritious. Sponsored by Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the panel chairman, the Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act would also create new meal programs targeting low-income children and bolster protections against food contamination in schools.
Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) has sponsored a similar, if slimmed down, proposal in the upper chamber.
Meanwhile, healthcare groups and children advocates continue their lobbying behind the bills. The American Heart Association, for instance, announced Tuesday that a petition drive urging lawmakers to pass the bills this year has produced more than 16,000 e-mails sent to Capitol Hill on the topic.