Five Things to Know About “Water in Schools”

drinking fountain What is “Water in Schools”?

Water in Schools is a project sponsored by the California Department of Health and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Water in Schools seeks to increase accessibility to water by suggesting innovative and inexpensive changes in schools. Free drinking water available at meals helps students stay hydrated throughout the school day. 

Why is water so important?

Drinking sufficient fluids can have a tremendously positive impact of children’s health It’s especially important for kids to stay hydrated so they can perform at their best!

Unfortunately, students often choose sugar-sweetened beverages to accompany their meals.  Water is a healthy, inexpensive alternative to these drinks.  Choosing water over these sugary beverages can also help with weight management. 

What is being done to encourage schools to promote water consumption?

California passed legislature mandating that schools provide one water fountain per 150 students.  The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 requires all schools participating in the National School Lunch Program to provide access to free water during meals. 

How can you encourage students to drink water?

Make sure water fountains in your school are functioning and maintained.  Ensure that there are enough water fountains.  Teachers and administrators can help by allowing and encouraging students to fill water bottles to carry with them during the day. 

What are some solutions to making water more available at your school?

Installing more water fountains is an effective change.  Even simple, inexpensive purchases can help make water more accessible and attractive to students.  For example, a larger school might choose to place water coolers in the lunchroom, while a smaller school might instead provide pitchers and cups. 

Water is extremely important for healthy nutrition and overall wellness, yet a 2009 survey conducted by Project Lean found that 40% of California schools did not provide students with access to free water in cafeterias. Visit to learn more about making free drinking water available in your cafeteria for your students!


Tisa Hill and Keira McKinney, Cornell University Division of Nutritional Sciences


Brandie, N.  Drinking water in schools. 2009. Nursing Times. 99;1(50-51). 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Healthy Youth: Water Access. Retrieved from:

Chandran, Kumar. Improving Water Consumption in Schools: Challenged, Promising Practices, and Next Steps. California Food Policy Advocates. Retrieved from:

Muckelbauer R, Libuda L, Clausen K, Toschke AM, Reinehr T, Kersting M.  Promotion and Provision of Drinking Water in Schools for Overweight Prevention: Randomized, Controlled Cluster Trial.  2009.  Pediatrics. 123;4(e661 -e667)

For More Information

Project Lean

Water in Schools