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Access to free drinking water is not a given in schools and child care centers, although it is a key strategy to build lifelong healthy habits in children.
Safe and appealing drinking water is particularly important to increase water consumption among Latino kids, who face more obstacles to being healthy, thus face higher rates of obesity and chronic disease.
At the state policy level, drinking water availability in child care centers is governed by child care center licensing regulations, and drinking water availability in public schools is primarily governed by school nutrition policies, state plumbing codes, and school facilities standards.
A recent study looked at state-wide policies in 20 states for drinking water quality and access in public schools and licensed child-care centers.
They found, for example, that only two of the 20 states studied have a school nutrition policy addressing access to drinking water at no cost to students, and neither of these states require food service areas to provide cups for drinking water.
The information was then summarized into individual state profiles and used to develop policy recommendations to ensure drinking water is safe and appealing.
20-State Review on Quality and Availability of Drinking Water
In December 2017, with support from Healthy Eating Research, the Public Health Advocacy Institute released:
- Final report, Developing State Policy Recommendations for Safe Drinking Procurement in Child Care Centers and Schools
- Individual state profiles: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin
Policy recommendations were made based on the guiding principles that plain water should be available to children at no cost throughout the day, and that drinking water should be held to safety standards.
Water bottle filling stations are an important consideration because they reduce waste, save families money and help keep kids hydrated.
“States that want to ensure all newly constructed schools and schools undergoing major renovations have bottle filling stations can amend their state plumbing codes and school construction standards to require a specified number of bottle filling stations in school buildings. Placement requirements can be per story and/or per specified school building area such as in cafeterias, high-traffic areas, and adjacent to gymnasiums and outdoor spaces.”
Share these state profiles and policy recommendations as they can be used as points of comparison and as a starting point for state policies.