JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Several parents told News4Jax they're unhappy because Kickstart, a Pepsi product that some consider to be an energy drink, has made its way into some vending machines at Duval County Public Schools.
The change comes after the district switched to Pepsi products from Coca-Cola products. A photograph taken by a Sandalwood High School parent (above) shows one of the Pepsi machines, which contains the drink Kickstart.
Another vending machine was seen at Baldwin Middle-Senior High School, where some students are as young as 11 years old.
Some parents, like Erika Sepega, consider Kickstart an energy drink. She's against having the drinks in machines.
"We should be showing our kids how to be healthier and how to make healthier decisions," Sepega said. "That starts at home, definitely, but I think it continues at school."
A 12-ounce can of Kickstart contains about 68 milligrams of caffeine. That's less than an 8.4-ounce can of Red Bull, which has 80 milligrams of caffeine, but more than twice the amount of a regular 12-ounce can of soda.
A statement from DCPS reads:
The agreement with the vendor indicates they can offer beverage products that meet the USDA Smart Snacks in School Beverage Guidelines. Per the attached guidelines, the only regulations regarding caffeinated beverages are that they be available at the high school level only.
The St. Johns County School District said it too sells Kickstart, pointing out it that it's a juice drink, which contains less caffeine than a cup of coffee (95 milligrams). Clay County schools and Nassau County schools do not sell the drink.
Some food for thought, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health said between 2007 and 2011, the number of energy-drink related visits to the ER doubled. In 2014, Poison Control received more than 5,000 calls about energy drinks.