by Elizabeth Baier, Minnesota Public Radio
April 16, 2009

Minneapolis — DFL Senator Amy Klobuchar was in Minneapolis Thursday discussing her plans to introduce federal legislation that would set nutrition standards for all food sold in schools.

Klobuchar said she plans to co-sponsor the bill with Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin. The legislation would allow the Secretary of Agriculture to regulate the sale of all food and beverages sold on school grounds. It would also set national nutrition standards for food in schools.

Klobuchar said she has support from several lawmakers already.

"There are a number of Senators with younger children who actually are experiencing this day to day and know what it's like to see the kids come in and grab the food that isn't very good," Klobuchar said. "Even though there's something nutritional right by or put their coins in the vending machine instead of getting something that would be much better for them."

She says she decided to move forward with the legislation in part because of the rapid increase in childhood obesity in the U.S.

"However, food and beverages that aren't part of these federal school meal programs, are largely exempt from such requirements," she said. "This is especially a concern since only 30 percent of school district prohibits the sale of junk foods in school vending machines nationwide."

Klobuchar said right now, Congress and the Department of Agriculture require only federally-subsidized school meals to meet nutrition standards and comply with the dietary guidelines.

The Center of Disease Control estimates one of every three children in the U.S. between the ages of 2 and 19 is overweight or at the risk of being overweight. And nearly a quarter of all children between ages 2 and 5 are either obese or overweight.