The deadline is next week for area schools to apply to have their water fountains swapped out for water bottle filling stations. Suzanne Heckenlaible, executive director of the Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation, says they’ve budgeted $300,000 for this year’s “Rethink Your Drink” program, which should be enough to outfit about 60 schools statewide.
Last year was the first year for the program and Delta Dental spent $230,000 to retrofit water fountains in 54 schools in 26 Iowa counties. That reached about 28-thousand students, encouraging them to quench their thirst without buying a sugary soft drink.
Each child also gets a toothbrush and a book mark. Despite efforts by families, schools and public health agencies to educate students on better drink choices, kids often choose caffeinated beverages, sports drinks and energy drinks — or they just go without.
By choosing water, she says students and staff are more alert, better hydrated, protect their tooth enamel and make their teeth more resistant to cavities. An added plus, in the first three months of the program, she says more than 200,000 plastic water bottles were saved from Iowa landfills. The deadline for schools to apply is May 1st at the following website: www.deltadentalia.com/H2O