Of course children in school can easily get a drink of water, right? At first glance, this may seem obvious. But, after some exploration, the issue is quite a bit more complicated.
Water in California
A survey from California Project LEAN and the California Department of Education found that approximately 40 percent of responding districts reported no access to free drinking water in school food service areas. Second, even for those that report having access to free drinking water, whether this access actually means kids are drinking water is another story.
Students often express a desire for chilled water. While some fountains are certainly inviting and deliver clean-tasting water, this is certainly not the case statewide. Water fountains may not be the best way to ensure adequate access to drinking water. Imagine a busy lunchroom with a hundred kids lining up to grab a sip of water from a fountain. It’s pretty difficult to get a substantial drink of water. With broken, unappealing, or poorly functioning fountains, it is likely quicker and more convenient for kids to grab a sugary drink from the vending machine, school store, or fundraiser.
A recent UCLA study found that 41 percent of children (ages 2 – 11), 62 percent of adolescents (ages 12 – 17), and 24 percent of adults drink at least one soda or other sugar-sweetened beverage every day. Regardless of income or ethnicity, adults who drink one or more sodas or other sugar-sweetened beverages every day are 27 percent more likely to be overweight or obese. Soda consumption rates vary from county to county and city to city, with dramatic variations between some counties and some cities.
Share your Story
Quicker and more efficient methods are necessary to get a proper serving of water to thirsty kids in a timely fashion. If your school is using a unique or creative way to get more students to drink water let us know! We’d love to highlight your success stories on this site. Contact Hector Gutierrez, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 213.482.8200 ext. 203
- Food and Water Watch: How Your Organization Can Promote Tap Water
- California Food Policy Advocates: Promoting Water Consumption in Schools
- Keep it Flowing: A Practical Guide to School Drinking Water Planning, Maintenance and Repair
- Harvard Water Access Audit Tool