Calif. Gov. Schwarzenegger Signs Legislation to Provide Students with Fresh, Free Drinking Water in Schools

SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Building on his efforts to reduce childhood obesity and provide healthy alternatives in schools, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today announced he has signed legislation to provide students with access to fresh, free drinking water in food service areas at schools. The legislation, SB 1413 by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), was first introduced by the Governor in February at his 2010 Summit on Health, Nutrition and Obesity.

“The health and well-being of our children and all Californians has always been one of my top priorities,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “At my Summit on Health, Nutrition and Obesity earlier this year, we discussed the link between fitness and educational success and the importance of making sure kids have healthy beverages and water available at school. Adequate hydration is necessary for the academic achievement and health of students, so it’s important that all schools provide fresh, free water to their students throughout the day, including during mealtimes. With this legislation, we are turning our goals into action that will help create a healthy foundation for California’s future.”

Many students do not currently have access to fresh, free drinking water in schools, particularly in low-income communities. In schools where there is water available, it is often not provided in food service areas during mealtimes, and while some school districts have found ways to provide access to water in food service areas, it is currently not a requirement for California schools. SB 1413 will change this by making free, drinking water a requirement in food service areas at California schools, unless governing board of a school district adopts a resolution stating that it is unable to comply with the requirements and demonstrates the reasons why it is unable to comply due to fiscal constraints or health and safety concerns.

Several schools in California are already using innovative strategies to provide free, safe water in school food service areas. The El Monte Union High School District provides 8-ounce bottled water as part of its meal service, and in the Berkeley Unified School District, schools supply paper cups and fill 5-gallon containers with water during meal time. Experience shows that the cost of implementing free water programs is relatively inexpensive. In the Los Angeles Unified School District, the provision of free water costs the district $1.20 per student per year ($2,000 per site per year), which includes the cost of lead tests, water filters, 5-gallon dispensers and cups. The Folsom-Cordova, Oakland and Hayward Unified school districts have also installed filtered “hydration stations” in cafeterias at a cost of $2,000 to $3,000 per site.

Governor Schwarzenegger has long demonstrated his commitment to fighting childhood obesity and encouraging all Californians to live a healthy, active lifestyle. He has:

Hosted the 2005 and 2010 Summits on Health, Nutrition and Obesity, which brought together leaders and experts from business, education, government and public health to launch a cross-sector approach to increasing healthy food options and opportunities for physical activity in California.

Championed nation-leading efforts to combat obesity and improve health and wellness including the Governor and President Clinton announcing their partnership in 2007 as co-leaders, along with the president of the American Heart Association, of The Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

Established the toughest school nutrition reforms in the nation, eliminated junk food and sodas from public schools and invested millions of dollars in fresh fruits and vegetables in school meals.

Established California as the first state in the nation to require fast food and large chain restaurants to post nutritional information on menus and eliminate trans fats from restaurant meals.

Secured millions of dollars in federal stimulus funding for statewide prevention and wellness programs.
Adopted the first-ever physical education (PE) standards and provided unprecedented funding for school PE teachers, equipment and supplies.

Established the state as a leader in worksite wellness by developing healthy vending policies for state buildings.
Reconstituted the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and the Governor’s Fitness Challenge to promote physical activity for all Californians with an emphasis on children and youth, engaging more than 100,000 students in 2009.

Set a new standard for statewide fitness challenges by signing up 1,302,769 participants in the 2010 Governor’s Fitness Challenge, dwarfing similar efforts in all other 49 states, and making California the clear leader in promoting physical fitness nationally.

Enacted policies to promote the development of healthy communities, including funding for parks and physical activity spaces in low-income communities, requirements for safe and pedestrian friendly streets and highways, and programs encouraging healthy transportation.

Established the multi-agency Strategic Growth Council to support the coordinated development of healthy, sustainable communities.

Created the Governor’s Honor Roll, securing commitments of significance from multi-sector leaders dedicated to improving healthy eating and active living in California.

Proposed comprehensive health care reform featuring significant investments in prevention and wellness.

First Lady Maria Shriver has also made obesity prevention a priority. Through a host of public-private partnerships, the First Lady has:
· Developed a “10 Steps for Healthy Living” brochure for parents and children which has been distributed in physician offices statewide.
· Built 31 playgrounds in low-income communities so children can have a safe place to play and be active.
· Led a call to healthy eating through her school garden initiative, the California School Garden Network and made California the first state in the nation to plant a sustainable garden on the grounds of a State Capitol.
· Established programs to encourage healthy eating, active living and preventive care including WE Connect and Family Day.

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