Schools participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and Afterschool Care Snack Program (ASCSP) must make potable water available to children at no charge in the place where lunch meals are served during the meal service. In addition, when breakfast is served in the cafeteria, schools must make potable water available and accessible without restriction to children at no charge. The location of the potable water must be in the foodservice area or immediately adjacent to the meal service area. For example, if a school has a water fountain that is immediately outside the door to the foodservice area (and accessible to all students during the lunch period) this could be considered sufficient. The water fountain must be operational and able to provide potable water to students in a reasonable time during their meal period.
There are a variety of ways that schools can implement this requirement. For example, schools can offer water pitchers and cups on lunch tables, a water fountain, or a faucet that allows students to fill their own bottles or cups with drinking water. Whatever solution is chosen, the water must be available without restriction in the location where meals are served. Schools should be working toward developing a reasonable method to implement this requirement.
Please refer to memorandum SP 28-2011 for additional questions and answers regarding location requirements, reasonable costs, and alternate serving areas.
- SP 28-2011: Child Nutrition Reauthorization 2010: Water Availability During National School Lunch Program Meal Service (released July 2011)
- SP 49-2016, CACFP 18-2016: Resources for Making Potable Water Available in Schools and Child Care Facilities (released July 2016)
- CDC Toolkit: Increasing Access to Drinking Water in Schools