THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234
Office of P-20 Education Policy
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.