Got Water?

When President Obama signed the “Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010” last December, one of the provisions was schools have water available for children in cafeterias.

Now you might think the idea of water for kids is a no-brainer.

You would be wrong.

Many schools do not have water fountains in their cafeterias. This can be for a variety of reasons. First, up until now, no one ever thought that kids would choose water over milk or juices. Secondly, the cafeteria of many schools is actually a multi-purpose area, which is used for from food, dances, meetings, etc.

Most schools put water fountains outside bathrooms, which are frequently not in cafeterias, but outside in adjacent hallways.

No more.

Schools have to install water fountains in the cafeteria.

Not surprisingly there are schools which are struggling to meet financial obligations as it is and are balking at another unfunded mandate.

The solution isn’t as simple as pointing kids toward the nearest water fountain. Just ask Brian Giles, food services senior administrator at the Houston Independent School District, the nation’s seventh-largest district, with more than 202,000 students and almost 300 campuses:

“The majority of our schools do not have drinking fountains or ready access to water in the lunchroom,” he said.

To comply, he’s spent $60,000 to buy 3.5-gallon water coolers for each school cafeteria. In the lunch line, students can choose milk or juice, or a cup for water.

“Every kid needs access to water,” he said. “It would have been nice if the feds allocated some money for it.”

Think about this for a moment. Milk comes in a closed container. Juice comes in a closed container. Does anyone but us think an open cup of water is going to lead to more problems?

Two words: FOOD FIGHT!

Perhaps schools can go a different route:

Like Houston, schools in Atlanta are putting out water coolers and making cups available. Other districts have invested in costlier water stations where students can fill cups or bottles.

“We’re looking at what is the most cost-effective, practical and environmentally –sustainable way to provide water to our students,” said Seattle Public Schools spokeswoman Teresa Wipple. For now, the district puts out pitchers and cups in the cafeterias of its 94 schools.

Pitchers of water? How sanitary is an open pitcher of water?

Okay, we may be overgeneralizing and blowing this out of proportion.

This is because people are worried about kids and what they eat and drink. So to teach them what is a good choice, you mandate water and remove other choices from the cafeteria. Schools have outlawed chocolate milk, and any milk that is not low fat. Schools are removing soda machines which help generate money for the school district and sports drinks because…. well because they can.

Once again, we see a financial burden placed on schools in a time when they are struggling to find money. On top of that, under the name of “teaching kids to make healthy choices,” you remove choices from them.

Only in a world that tilts left does this make any sense.

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