Children spend substantial time in schools, and many arrive at school inadequately hydrated. Excellent access to drinking water in schools encourages the consumption of drinking water over sugar-sweetened beverages, which offers a host of benefits, including physical health and mental function.
California has long recognized this, and has been instrumental in the movement to improve water access in schools nationwide. In 2010, we enacted SB 1413, legislation which required the provision of free drinking water in food service areas during meal times in public schools. This statute generated momentum for similar language to be incorporated into the 2010 federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA).
While much progress has been made, our work with researchers at Stanford University, Karla Hampton Consulting and Nutrition Policy Institute shows that there remains much room for improvement. CFPA’s newly released policy brief, What’s Next For Drinking Water Access in California Public Schools?, presents findings from an evaluation of drinking water access in schools before and after implementation of SB 1413/HHFKA, and proposes three policy recommendations to continue building on California’s historical leadership and make drinking water accessible and safe in our schools.