Rethink Your Drink

Fifty-four schools from more than 40 cities in Ohio recently received new water fountains, thanks to $200,000 in funding from the Delta Dental Foundation (DDF).

The schools are part of the DDF’s “Rethink Your Drink: Water’s Cool at School” program. The program is designed to encourage children to drink more water during the school day and to drink water rather than high sugar alternatives. The average school child consumes 62 lbs. of sugar a year, most of that from soft drinks or other high sugar content beverages.

According to the American Heart Association, on average, U.S. children ages 2-18 consume 19 teaspoons of added sugar daily, largely from soda, fruit-flavored drinks, sports drinks, cakes and cookies, according to the report. The AHA recommends that children over age 2 years should consume no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar each day and children should not drink more than one 8-ounce sugar-sweetened beverage per week.

“More than 50 percent of children and teens in the U.S. do not drink enough water during the school day. This can impact behavior, energy levels and cognitive function. And when kids choose to quench their thirst with sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda pop, juice and sports drinks, it can have adverse effects on their oral and overall health,” said Teri Battaglieri, Delta Dental Foundation director.

The schools will have old drinking fountains replaced with Elkay water fountain/bottle filling stations. They will also receive reusable water bottles for students and staff.

“As a school nurse, I see firsthand the unhealthy behaviors that can derail a child’s success at school, and sugar-sweetened beverages are a major contributor” said Sarah Halbeisen, Director of Health Services for Gibsonburg Schools. Sarah indicated that after they received their bottle filling station and the reusable water bottles, she immediately saw a dramatic change in the students’ attitudes towards drinking water. “The kids love going to the station and filling their water bottles, and they purposefully come to school with empty bottles so they can use the super cool water station. It’s a joy to see.”

She also mentioned that the filling stations have even affected students’ lives outside of school, too. “I’ve noticed a change in what parents are packing with their children’s lunches. They pack small empty bottles in lunch pails so students can have water in place of sugary juice boxes with their lunch. Parents also love it because it’ saving them money.”

“Thanks to the Delta Dental Foundation, water is so cool at our school!”

More than 60 schools applied for the grants, and winners were selected based on several criteria, including age and condition of their drinking fountains, creativity of their applications, percentage of students who qualify for free and reduced lunch, and geographic location. The program has been a great success, and the DDF is continuing to receive numerous requests from schools around the state.

The program was piloted in September 2016. Within the first month, students increased their water consumption and saved more than 2,200 empty water bottles from going into a landfill.

“Rethink Your Drink” program made possible by: