Drinking Water is Widely Available in U.S. Public School Cafeterias

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This study shows that over 80 percent of U.S. public elementary, middle, and high schools met the new federal legislation mandating the availability of free drinking water during lunchtime.

The Issue:

Beginning with the 2011-2012, new federal legislation mandates the availability of free drinking water during lunchtime in U.S. public schools.

Key Findings

  • Overall, 86.4 percent, 87.4 percent, and 89.4 percent of students attended elementary, middle, and high schools that met the drinking water requirement.

  • Most often, students attended schools with existing cafeteria drinking fountains.

  • Middle and high school students noted that they attended schools with drinking fountains perceived to be clean or very clean (92.6% and 90.4 percent, respectively).

Conclusion:

While this study shows most schools implementing the free drinking water requirement, further research is needed to ensure implementation at all public schools and address increased consumption of water, as opposed to sugar sweetened beverages, by students.

About the Study:

This study utilized data from the Bridging the Gap study. Information was collected by mail-back survey in nationally representative samples of U.S. public elementary, middle, and high schools from 2009-2010 to 2011-2012. The sample included 2931 unique schools with 3870 observations. School administrators and school food service personnel completed study modules.