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Office of P-20 Education Policy
Child Nutrition Program Administration
89 Washington Avenue, Room 375 EBA, Albany, NY 12234
Phone: (518) 473-8781 Fax: (518) 473-0018

School Food Service Directors/Managers
Frances N. O'Donnell, Coordinator
Friday, April 1, 2011
Child Nutrition Reauthorization 2010: Water Availability During National School Lunch Program Meal Service

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (the Act), Public Law 111-296, establishes a requirement for making water available to children in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). The purpose of this memorandum is to provide guidance on the implementation of this provision.

Section 203 of the Act amends section 9(a) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. (1758 (a)) by requiring schools participating in the NSLP to make potable water available to children at no charge in the place where lunch meals are served during the meal service. There are a variety of ways that schools can implement this requirement . For example, schools can offer covered insulated coolers/jugs of water and disposable cups in an accessible location in the cafeteria, a water fountain, or a faucet that allows students to fill their own bottles or cups with drinking water. Whatever solution is chosen, and there are many options available, the water must be available without restriction in the location where meals are served. Please check with your local health department regarding local requirements. Schools should begin working toward developing a reasonable method to implement this requirement.

While potable water is required to be made available to students, it is not considered part of the reimbursable meal and students are not required to take water. Water is also not a beverage choice in the lunch meal pattern. There is no separate funding available for this provision and reimbursement may not be claimed. However, reasonable costs associated with providing potable water would be an allowable cost to the non-profit food service account, i.e. water coolers, pitchers, paper cups.

USDA understands that some food service areas and/or procedures may require significant changes to properly implement this provision. They also recognize the range of complexities that may be involved in a school's ability to make potable water available during lunch at no charge. For example, you must ensure that all equipment is handled properly and sanitized daily. Water coolers might be easier to maintain. Therefore, they encourage schools to comply with this requirement as soon as possible, but not later than the beginning of School year 2011-12.

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) plans to issue a proposed rule regarding water availability in conjunction with the proposed nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools. FNS will issue separate guidance to implement a similar provision in the Child and Adult Care Food Program.

Questions on providing access to water during the lunch meal service should be directed to your Child Nutrition Representative.

USDA Nondiscrimination Statement

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA. 

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.  Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at:, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

(1)     mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture
         Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
         1400 Independence Avenue, SW
         Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2)     fax: (202) 690-7442; or

(3)     email:

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.


For Nondiscrimination Statement translations, click here.

Los demás programas de asistencia nutricional del FNS, las agencias estatales y locales, y sus beneficiarios secundarios, deben publicar el siguiente Aviso de No Discriminación:

De conformidad con la Ley Federal de Derechos Civiles y los reglamentos y políticas de derechos civiles del Departamento de Agricultura de los EE. UU. (USDA, por sus siglas en ingles), se prohíbe que el USDA, sus agencias, oficinas, empleados e instituciones que participan o administran programas del USDA discriminen sobre la base de raza, color, nacionalidad, sexo, discapacidad, edad, o en represalia o venganza por actividades previas de derechos civiles en algún programa o actividad realizados o financiados por el USDA.

Las personas con discapacidades que necesiten medios alternativos para la comunicación de la información del programa (por ejemplo, sistema Braille, letras grandes, cintas de audio, lenguaje de seas americano, etc.), deben ponerse en contacto con la agencia (estatal o local) en la que solicitaron los beneficios. Las personas sordas, con dificultades de audición o discapacidades del habla pueden comunicarse con el USDA por medio del Federal Relay Service [Servicio Federal de Retransmisión] al (800) 877-8339. Además, la información del programa se puede proporcionar en otros idiomas.

Para presentar una denuncia de discriminación, complete el Formulario de Denuncia de Discriminación del Programa del USDA, (AD-3027) que está disponible en linea en: y en cualquier oficina del USDA, o bien escriba una carta dirigida al USDA e incluya en la carta toda la información solicitada en el formulario. Para solicitar una copia del formulario de denuncia, llame al (866) 632-9992. Haga llegar su formulario lleno o carta al USDA por:

(1)     correo: U.S. Department of Agriculture
         Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
         1400 Independence Avenue, SW
         Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2)     fax: (202) 690-7442; o

(3)     correo electró

Esta institución es un proveedor que ofrece igualdad de oportunidades.