In many California school cafeterias, there’s no free water to drink. Surprised?
“Everyone I talked to says, ‘You’re kidding,’ ” said state Sen. Mark Leno (D- San Francisco).
Leno has introduced legislation to change that. His bill requiring schools to offer drinking water at no charge to students has passed the Senate and Assembly and awaits the governor’s signature — a fairly sure thing because the governor sponsored the bill.
“As we all know, young people are constantly bombarded by advertisements and pressure from their peers to consume junk beverages that are high in calories and sugar. Yet many students do not have access to free, fresh drinking water at lunchtime,” Leno said in material promoting his bill.
“You just don’t imagine in our country in 2010 that there isn’t free water to drink while you are having a meal. But there isn’t,” said Kenneth Hecht, executive director of California Food Policy Advocates, an Oakland-based organization that supported the legislation.
Leno’s Senate Bill 1413 requires schools by next July to make fresh drinking water available where students get their meals. The bill provides no funding, and districts can make the case that they cannot afford to comply.