U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney said he is considering his options and may decide to challenge U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman for his seat in 2012.
“We’re looking at it. It’s a big decision,” he said, adding that it is also a huge commitment and if he decides to run, he will likely be making an announcement soon. Courtney said that it is an interesting time for both the nation and the Senate, which is in need of filibuster reform.
Courtney made the comments on Monday morning at a Vernon elementary school, where he participated in a 10-minute jog with a group of third-graders, to discuss the new childhood nutrition law President Barack Obama signed into law today at a Washington D.C. elementary school.
Courtney made his way around a small gymnasium at the Maple Street School chatting with students as he walked. When it was over, four of the students collapsed to the gym floor in mock-exhaustion. One boy asked his gym teacher if they could run it again.
Before the run, Courtney, who serves on the House Education and Labor committee that helped to draft the bill, took a moment to explain the new law to the class.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 includes a provision to increase federal funds for school meals by six cents per meal, which Courtney said was the first increase in 30 years.
“It’s something that’s been willfully neglected,” he said after his jog.
Courtney said the bill’s passage was the culmination of six years of work to update nutritional standards for the nation’s school meals. He said most school meal programs feature a lot of unhealthy foods, which taxpayers foot the bill for and end up contributing to a national obesity problem.
He credited First Lady Michelle Obama and her Let’s Move! Initiative for helping to get the bill passed during the lame duck session.
He told the group of third-graders how obesity continues to be a problem and how military leaders have told Congress that a high percentage of potential recruits are too unhealthy to enlist.
The first child nutrition law was passed after World War II in response to a very different situation, where many people were too malnourished to serve, Courtney said.
“There’s clearly something off in terms of diet,” he said of the current obesity problem.
In its third year, Vernon’s Monday Jogging Challenge is designed to prepare the third-graders for the standardized physical fitness test they will have to take in the fourth grade, Physical Education teacher Jeff Williams said. Each of the elementary schools in the town competes for the best jogging times.
“I like what we’re trying to do here,” Williams said, noting that he sees a vast improvement in the students’ jogging abilities from where they are when they return to school in September and where they end up at the end of the year. The morning jog is in addition to other opportunities to exercise such as gym class and recess, he said.
The program also stresses the importance of diet in a healthy lifestyle.
“Am I going to be able to lose weight if I exercise and then eat at McDonald’s every day?” Williams asked the students. They collectively shook their heads from side to side while saying, “No!”
Courtney said that the program is the sort of thing the new law aims to encourage by providing more funds to participating schools especially in economically distressed areas like Rockville, where the school is located.