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Drinking Water

Drinking water must be made available to participants upon request, including at meal times. Child care centers and family day care homes must also directly offer water throughout the day in recognition that very young children may not be able to or know how to request it themselves.

  • Offering water means asking the participants whether they would like water at different times throughout the day. For very young children, this may require visual cues such as showing the cup or pitcher while verbally offering the water.
  • While drinking water must be made available to participants during meal times, it does not have to be served alongside the meal.
  • Water is not part of a reimbursable meal and may not be served in place of fluid milk.
  • It does not have to be available for participants to self-serve but can be made available in a variety of ways which include having cups available next to the kitchen sink faucet, having water pitchers and cups set out, or simply providing water to a participant when it is requested.
  • It is advised that participants not be served too much water before and during meal times; excess water may lead to reducing the amount of food and milk consumed by the participants.
  • Water should be served with snacks when no other beverage is being served and in place of other high calorie, sweetened beverages (juice drinks, soda, sports drinks, etc.) that are served outside of meal times.

Grow Healthy Kids Just Add Water Toolkit
Let’s Move Child Care Providing Healthy Beverages
Increasing Access to Drinking Water and Other Healthier Beverages in Early Care and Education Settings
USDA Policy Memo CACFP20-2016: Water Availability in the Child and Adult Care Food Program

Reducing the Impact of Lead Exposure in Drinking Water

In addition to an all-around healthy diet, consuming calcium, iron and vitamin C are especially important for those in an area impacted by lead exposure. These three key nutrients have been shown to help limit the absorption of lead by the body. These nutrients can be obtained by eating certain foods, such as:
Calcium keeps bones strong and keeps the lead out. Serve calcium-rich foods including:

  • Dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, and cottage cheese
  • Green leafy vegetables, including kale and turnip and collard greens
  • Broccoli
  • Calcium-enriched foods, such as orange juice, soy milk, and tofu
  • Canned salmon and sardines
  • Almonds and almond butter

Iron blocks lead from being absorbed. Try these iron-rich foods:

  • Lean red meats and chicken
  • Green, leafy vegetables such as spinach and chard
  • Iron-fortified cereal, bread, and pasta
  • Dried fruit, such as raisins and prunes
  • Beans and lentils
  • Eggs

Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron and may help get rid of lead. Foods rich in vitamin C include:

  • Citrus fruits and juices, such as oranges and grapefruit
  • Other fruits such as kiwi, strawberries, and melon
  • Tomatoes, green and red bell peppers, baked potatoes, Brussel sprouts, and broccoli

The USDA Child Nutrition Programs allows for foods that are high in calcium, iron, and vitamin C. By maximizing participation in these programs it gives every child the opportunity to consume these important nutrients.
CACFP 18-2016 Resources for Making Potable Water Available in Schools and Child Care Facilities
Hunger Task Force: Well-Fed Means Less Lead
Nutrition and Lead Exposure
Elevated lead levels in the water of homes, schools, and child care centers is a growing concern in our state and in our communities. This 15 minute webcast explains the importance of how a healthy diet can help with decreased lead absorption.