Clean, free drinking water now required at California public schools

On July 1, a new California state law goes into effect requiring all public schools to provide free, fresh drinking water to students at mealtimes...

LOS ANGELES, CA, June 30, 2011 -- On July 1, a new California state law goes into effect requiring all public schools to provide free, fresh drinking water to students at mealtimes.

The legislation, Senate Bill 1413, was approved last year by California lawmakers. Its passage is seen as a key milestone in the state's efforts to fight childhood obesity.

A 2009 survey by the California Department of Public Health revealed that about 40 percent of the 200 responding school districts said they did not provide access to free drinking water during school meals. Even in schools where safe drinking water is available, the survey found that students don't drink water because the water in fountains or dispensers isn't cold, schools don't have enough water fountains and the fountains are poorly maintained.

School districts that cannot comply for fiscal or health and safety reasons may seek exemption by passing a resolution to that effect.

With California as a model, the federal government established a requirement in The Healthy, Hunger-Free Act of 2010 to make water available to children in the National School Lunch Program. The USDA is urging schools to implement the requirement no later than the beginning of School Year 2011-12.

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