school lunchesOnce a month, students at Andrew Jackson and Stephen Girard Elementary schools receive these for breakfast: a bag of "Morning Mix-ups" apple-cinnamon flavored SUN snack mix.

The chips have 200 calories: 7 grams of sugar, 6 grams of fat, 32 carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein and 130 milligrams of sodium - no vitamins, no minerals - and 16 grams of whole grain.

For a drink, the kids can choose from fruit juice, chocolate or plain milk.

The fruit juice has 60 calories: 15 grams of sugar, 15 milligrams of sodium and 14 grams of carbohydrates. No protein, no vitamins.

 

Parents from the two schools are asking, "Why doesn't the school district offer healthier options than a bag of chips and fruit punch?"

The district feeds all district elementary school kids breakfast and lunch up to eighth grade. For many students, this may be the only meals they eat each day.

Some of the other items on the month's meal calendar includes muffins and pancakes with syrup. One parent described the the muffins as "unfrosted cupcakes."

The parent, who asked to remain anonymous, called the "Breakfast Round," served twice a month, as a "doughnut."

While fruit is mentioned several times on the menu, a few parents said they have not seen fruit available.

Beth Wallace, a nutritionist at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said in regards to the chips, "There are better and probably less expensive options."

"Something like whole wheat toast with peanut butter and milk is going to be less expensive than a bag of Sun chips over the course of year, most likely, and you're getting a lot more whole foods and nutrients," Wallace said.

She said oatmeal with nuts in it or yogurt with and fruit on it would be ideal.

"I really think that anything in the morning is better for a child, but really to maximize the start to their day they actually need nutrients, not just calories," she said.

Fernando Gallard, school district spokesman, said "All breakfast menu's meet or exceed the federal requirements."

The chips "provides 2 bread equivalents according to the USDA required meal pattern," Gallard said in an email. "The current meal pattern does not require whole grains. In preparation for next school year, we have enhanced our menu by providing items that contain whole grains."

Gallard said in an email that the fruit juice "Contains 100% Fruit Juice from concentrate."

"No artificial flavorings or colors are used," he said.

Gallard added that the chocolate milk is "Fat Free low sugar milk- 120 calories, only 7g of added sugar- 19g total carbohydrate," and the plain milk is "1% milk- 100 calories, 12g carbohydrate."

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