Water is often called “the fountain of life.” It is essential we need to drink water to survive and it is the healthiest drink; it is calorie-free; it hydrates and removes toxins. In the age of obesity, drinking water instead of sugary beverages is an excellent way to keep calories lower in a diet. And, water is easy to access and cheap, right? Well, not exactly
in the last few decades, water has increasingly become a commodity industries have been making huge profits by selling distinctive bottled waters, including with flavors or vitamins. Due primarily to the beverage industries’ stronghold, nowadays finding free water to drink that is not in a bottle is not always that simple.
According to an NPR Health Blog, a survey of California schools has revealed that 40 percent of those that responded did not offer free water in their cafeterias. That has prompted state Senator Mark Leno to introduce a bill that would require schools to provide water for students where they eat lunch. The bill has made it to the governor’s desk and, if approved, should take effect in January.
NPR did an interview with the senator who stated that he believes the reason behind schools not offering free water is that 1) there is a lack of recognition that hydration is important for both students’ health and performance and 2) there seems to be some confusion over whether offering free water conflicts with the National School Lunch Program regulations or even beverage contracts.
The proposed bill does not provide any additional funding to schools; however, Leno states that providing free water to students can be done at minimal cost and that he has been told that such a program in the Los Angeles Unified School District costs approximately $1.20 per student, per year.
With this bill, the senator not only hopes children will be better able to control their weight, but also improve their academic performance. The senator adds that “dehydration is associated with impaired cognitive function and that it also can adversely affect alertness, attention and perception, memory and reasoning. So, if we want our children to succeed in school, we not only need to provide well-trained, motivated teachers and proper supplies, but we also have to make sure they are in good health and able to perform.”
Schools are already doing a lot to help students be healthy, but BoardBuzz agrees with Leno, ”water can help.” Making free water readily available sounds like an effective means to getting kids healthy and ready to learn!