Put Water in Your School Wellness Policy!
As the June 30 deadline for compliance with USDA requirements for Local School Wellness Policies approaches, now is the time to ask:
Is there free, potable (safe) drinking water throughout the school?
Are drinking fountains clean and working?
Is water available where school meals and snacks are served?
Are there policies that support drinking water?
If your answer to any of these questions is “no,” then it's time to TAKE ACTION!
Students often come to school thirsty —
more than half of school age children are under-hydrated.
Children, teens and adults consume too many sugary drinks. The calories and
added sugars in these beverages can fuel diabetes, obesity and tooth decay.
Water helps cognition and attention span in children and adults, as well as physical and oral health.
America's Child Nutrition Act requires that potable water be made available
at no charge in places where meals are served at schools participating
in the National School Lunch Program.
Why Wellness Policies?
Wellness policies are a great tool for parents and community members to provide input
on promoting student wellness and ensuring a healthy environment in schools.
Wellness policies help make good nutrition and physical activity sustainable practices.
All local educational agencies that participate in the National School Lunch Program are
required to comply with the USDA’s final rule on school wellness policies by June 30, 2017.
Click to learn more about local school wellness policies.
What Can You Do About It?
Make the availability of safe and free drinking water a priority at your school. Here are a few steps you can take at school and with school district leaders:
Take action at school:
Check. Are there working fountains around the campus?
Is water available where students eat? Use Assess the Quality of Water Access (AQWA), a participatory science photo-evidence tool.
Ask. What steps are administrators and staff taking to make sure
students have free and safe water to drink during meals and snacks?
Promote. Students make great advocates; posters, art and other media
can encourage students and adults to drink water.
Take action with school district leaders:
Check. Does your Local School Wellness Policy (LSWP) address free and safe drinking water?
Schools participating in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs are required to have an LSWP in place, and the requirements were recently updated. Schools must comply with new requirements by June 30, 2017. Make sure your LSWP includes strong language to build effective access to free and safe drinking water for students and staff. Strong policy language is specific and actionable. The WellSAT 2.0 Wellness School Assessment Tool can help you rate the language in your LSWP.
Include. If your LSWP doesn't address water availability or the language is weak, propose model language to the person(s) in charge.
Model language to incorporate in a LSWP:
"Free, safe, unflavored drinking water will be available to all students throughout the school day and throughout every school campus." Read more from Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
"The school district will encourage all school administrators, teachers and building staff to be role models by drinking water around students."
Read more from Parents Making Waves pages 16-19.
"Perform maintenance on all water fountains regularly."
Read more from ChangeLab Solutions.
It’s not expensive to make free and safe drinking water available to all students. Read Parents Making Waves for useful information about the costs of different drinking water improvements. Or, explore this website for more information on what you can do.