The six essential nutrients essential for human health are carbohydrates, fat, protein, vitamins, minerals, and water. To many peoples’ surprise water is typically forgotten as a nutrient, but its vast majority of functions attribute to its importance in the diet. Water accounts for 60% of the body’s weight and functions to maintain body temperature, lubricate joints, protect the spinal cord, and rid the body of waste.
According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the latest research demonstrates only between 10 and 60 percent of children drink the recommended amount of water. Dehydration is a primary concern for inadequate consumption of water in children since it negatively affects a child’s physical and mental alertness. This is crucial in a school setting because even mild dehydration can negatively affect these attributes directly impacting school performance.
For any schools participating in the National School Lunch and/or Breakfast program it is required to make free water available to students during meal times. Shockingly, a study completed by the California Department of Public Health discovered only 40 percent of schools provide access to free water during times of meals and sugar sweetened beverages are sought out by children who do not have free water available.
Here are ways to instill and sustain a water access program at your school:
Assess polices and practices
Review districts’ policy on provision of water, cups, or bottles at snack and meal times exceeding the USDA requirement.
Determine standard operating procedures for placement, filling, and cleaning of water delivery mechanisms.
Examine testing procedures for quality of water
Evaluate water access points and Fountain to Student ratio
Develop a Plan
Establish goals and objectives
Work with PTAs and the School District’s Wellness Committee for support and strategies