Sparked by a massive federal recall of beef shipped to school cafeterias this past February, City Council's Education Committee held a hearing May 6 examining safety and nutrition in the School District's food program.
According to public testimony, some schools are not consistently providing potable drinking water or meals that are the appropriate portion size for their students.
Parent Aissia Richardson said that some students have come home with headaches, stomachaches, or dehydration because drinking water at their schools is not clean.
"That's not something that food service is responsible for, but it is something that we see," said Richardson, of Parents United for Public Education.
She also said that "some children are coming home hungry, especially with the satellite schools, because the meals are not enough to fill a grown child."
Members from several other community groups including Public Citizens for Children and Youth, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, and the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger testified before the committee.
Advocates said they would like to see more fresh fruits and vegetables available for students, along with a vegetarian option on all school menus. Other concerns included the low number of students utilizing the free breakfast program, lunches scheduled too early or too late in the day, and the inaccessibility of nutritional facts about the food.