Have you ever craved for some water to drink while at school? Have you ever run around campus searching for that precious water fountain only to find that it is not working? If you answer yes, you are not alone. I recently conducted a survey among students in five high schools in the San Francisco Bay area. About 80% of them indicated that they regularly felt thirsty or extreme thirsty while attending school, and more than 90% stated that having better access to drinking water while at school would help improve their performance at school.
A few years ago, the federal government passed a legislation which mandates the availability of free drinking water during lunchtime in U.S. public schools. However, due to increasing budget cuts, many schools have not upgraded their drinking fountain facilities or increased their drinking fountain availability. In many large public schools, even though the minimum federal standard is met, the drinking fountains either do not function properly or are unhygienic. As a result, students are not willing to use the drinking fountains on campus. In the survey I conducted, more than 70% of the students indicated that they did not want to use the drinking fountains on campus for various reasons. This means that during the seven or so hours when the students conduct their main learning activities during the day, they pretty much have no access to drinking water!
According to a research done by Institute of Medicine, an adequate drink intake for men is 3 liters per day which equals to about 6 bottles of 500 ml water, and an adequate drink intake for women is 2.2 liters per day which equals to 4 to 5 bottles of 500 ml water. For teenagers, they need to drink extra water to compensate for the additional fluid loss due to their tendency to engage in activities that make them sweat. Thus, the fact that the students are not able to drink water during school not only affects their performance and activities at school, but also poses serious health threat to them.
One solution to this pressing problem is to enhance the quality and quantity of drinking fountains at schools. This involves overhauling the existing deteriorating drinking fountains, increasing the number of drinking fountains on campuses, and maintaining the hygiene of water fountains. Accomplishing all these tasks will take time and require a lot of resources. Given the increasing budget constraints in many school districts, reforming drinking fountains at school campuses is not an encouraging prospect.
Then, the alternative is imperative and pressing: to provide bottled water to students on campus via vending machines. With bottled water easily accessible, students can acquire the water intake required by their bodies, can stay safely hydrated, and can better enjoy their days at school. In my survey, 100% of the students indicated that they would support providing bottled water vending machines on campus, and more than 90% suggested that they would enjoy their school days better by using bottled water vending machines on campus. For a better learning environment, for a happier school day, and for a healthier life, let’s have bottled water vending machines on campus!