East BayNews

Oakland beverage tax funds school hydration stations

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The Oakland City Council has voted to approve the purchase and installation of new hydration stations at 110 public schools in the city to ensure that students have access to clean drinking water at school, city and school officials said.

The project was initiated after the Oakland Unified School District found elevated lead levels in certain water fountains at McClymonds High School last summer.

The district moved quickly to remove all fountains with elevated lead at all of its schools and replace them with lead-free fixtures.

The school district then asked for assistance in paying for water stations at 15 high schools, 14 middle schools, 54 elementary schools and 28 child development centers.

The district said the hydration stations complement and expand its efforts to provide clean and safe water to students by making drinking water easily accessible and more attractive.

Oakland’s Sugar Sweetened Beverage tax, which was approved by the city’s voters in 2016, will provide $371,000 in funding for the stations.

Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan will also allocate $100,000 from the county’s Measure A discretionary funds for the hydration stations.

School district officials said the combined funds give them the necessary dollars to purchase and install water stations.

Chan said in a statement:

“Children and youth are better prepared to learn when they are drinking water instead of sugar sweetened beverages.”

After the council’s vote Tuesday night, Oakland Councilwoman Annie Campbell Washington, who authored the city’s soda tax, said:

“The goal of the soda tax funding is to provide children with healthy choices and educate the public on the risks associated with soda and other sugary beverages … These new hydration stations not only ensure students drink safe water, but it encourages students to drink water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages.”

The new hydration stations will allow students to fill reusable water bottles and cups and will provide clean drinking water to students and reduce the use of disposable water bottles, resulting in a positive environmental impact, according to school officials.

 

The school district said it plans to install the fountains over the summer so they will be ready when the new school year starts in the fall.

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