A New Guide to Getting Water Into School Cafeterias

glassofwaterOne of the less talked about mandates of the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, the federal legislation overhauling school food, is a provision requiring schools to provide children with free, potable drinking water wherever school meals are served.

It’s a great idea, of course, but as I explained in two posts here (one in 2011, another in 2012), getting free drinking water to kids is not nearly as easy as it might sound.   To recap,  I wrote in 2011:

How is a cash-strapped district going to pay for the thousands and thousands of disposable cups that need to sit near pitchers or coolers, if a school chooses that method to distribute water?  And how are the pitchers or coolers going to be properly cleaned if a stripped down school kitchen lacks adequate washing facilities?  Or if a school instead decides to let kids fill up their own cups bottles, who is going to pay for the installation of a new faucet in the lunch room?

Existing water fountains can help, but in many schools they’re avoided by kids (and adults) because the water just plain tastes bad.

I’m revisiting the issue today because I just received from California Food Policy Advocates a free, downloadable guide, “Water Works,” for schools seeking to comply with the federal mandate and/or generally boost water consumption among students.  It’s one of the most comprehensive resources I’ve ever seen on the topic and would be useful not just for schools but also parents concerned about this issue who want to be informed before approaching a principal or district official.  In addition to the free guide, CFPA also has an entire website devoted to water in schools, which may be found here.

What’s the water situation in your school cafeteria?  Do kids know they can get free water and do they take advantage of the option?  Let me know in a comment below.

Do You Love The Lunch Tray? ♥♥♥ Then “like” The Lunch Tray! Join almost 8,000 TLT fans by liking TLT’s Facebook page (and then adding it to your news feed or interest lists) to get your Lunch delivered, along with bonus commentary, interesting kid-and-food links, and stimulating discussion with other readers. You can also join almost 5,000 TLT followers on Twitter, see my virtual bulletin boards on Pinterest and find selected TLT posts on The Huffington Post. And be sure to check out my free video for kids about processed food, “Mr. Zee’s Apple Factory!”

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Bettina Elias Siegel


  1. says

    Our schools provide water but in the form of water fountains that are not particularly easy to use or appealing, and I haven’t seen any cups provided. Love the sound of water bottle filling stations! I’d also like to see more done to promote water as a beverage choice, especially at class parties, where juice boxes/squeezes are the norm. So much to advocate for, so little time! :-) Thanks for the informative post!

  2. says

    The hope is that we become a culture whereby having a sturdy re-usable water bottle is part of our daily uniform, that way schools won’t have to worry about paying for disposable cups and all the trash that results.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *