Access To Clean Drinking Water At School

Access To Clean Drinking Water At School

Fri 17 Jan 2014

Story by The Jamie Oliver Food Foundation (USA)

Improving access to clean drinking water at mealtimes and throughout the school day.

While there have been many positive changes to school food since Jamie was last in California, there are still some improvements that need to be made to deliver the healthiest and most appealing food and drinks during mealtimes at school.

California state law requires that schools provide fresh, free drinking water with meals, but a 2009 survey found that about 40% of California schools are not doing so. This statistic holds true across the nation. Many schools are not aware of the problem or simply don’t have the funding for improvements (1).

Our partners, The California Endowment, have a long-standing commitment to increase access to free, safe drinking water to keep residents healthy and help our children succeed in school, and as part of Jamie’s trip to the U.S. last week he joined local and state officials to also talk about this topic.

Jamie walked the halls of the state Capitol with The California Endowment President and CEO Dr. Robert K. Ross and Senior Vice President Daniel Zingale to talk about what needs to get done to keep on improving school food and the food environment; including improving access to water at mealtimes.

Check out Jamie’s post on the topic with a picture of a sample water from a school district handed to him by California Speaker of the Assembly John Perez.

Water is always a healthier choice than sugary drinks, which can lead to childhood obesity and other serious diseases. Unfortunately, drinking fountains are often broken or located far from school cafeterias and other eating areas. The truth is, water should be easier to access than chocolate milk.

• The current obesity epidemic affects more than a third of California’s 5th, 7th, and 9th graders. In some counties, more than half of all children are obese or overweight (2).

• More than 50% of youth 12 to 17 had one sugar-sweetened drink each day in 2011 in Los Angeles County (3).

• There are also racial and ethnic disparities, with nearly 49% of black youths and 42% of Latino youths having daily sugary drinks, compared with 26% of whites and 28% of Asians (3).

• In addition to soda, students are also drinking flavored milk, which is loaded with added sugar and contains other ingredients such as colors, flavors and artificial sweeteners that don't add any nutritional value to children's diets.

• Many chocolate milks have the same amount of sugar as a soft drink and just one additional soft drink per day increases a child's obesity risk by 60% and is a major contributor to Type 2 diabetes.

To increase clean water access, The California Endowment is already promoting innovative ideas for making water available in schools, such as modern water stations; and supporting schools in setting up Wellness Councils that work with parents and students to promote drinking water and make it more appealing to kids. We support the California Endowment in these efforts and believe that every child should have access to safe, clean, drinking water at school. Find out more at

The Jamie Oliver Food Foundation (USA)

Top right to bottom left - Jamie with California Speaker of the Assembly John Perez; The California Endowment President and CEO Dr. Ross; Jamie, Dr. Ross and TCE Senior Vice President Daniel Zingale, Jamie and California Governor Jerry Brown. All images taken by John Decker.
Top left - Jamie's picture of the water handed to him by California Speaker of the Assembly John Perez

1. Promoting Water Consumption in Schools” California Food Policy Advocates.
2. Changes in Overweight and Obesity Among California 5th, 7th, and 9th Graders, 2005-2010.
3. Declines in Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption Among Children in Los Angeles County, 2007 and 2011.” Center for Disease Control and Prevention.


More News