ATTENTION: CO-OP DIRECTORS
This memorandum clarifies the regulation that water must be available to students in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) and shall not compete with the milk requirement. The NSLP and SBP (7 CFR 210.10(a)(1)(i)) & (7 CFR 220.8(a)(1)), respectively require schools to make water available and accessible during the meal service if lunch or breakfast is served in the cafeteria. While water must be made available, schools must not directly or indirectly restrict the sale or marketing of fluid milk (7 CFR 210.10(d)(4)).
Ways to implement the water requirement, according to USDA memo SP 28-2011:
- Water pitchers and cups on lunch tables
- A water fountain
- A faucet that allows students to fill their own bottles or cups with drinking water
Potable water must be available to students during the meal service, but it is not a part of the reimbursable meal and students are not required to take water. Bottled water may be available to students on the serving line, but water should be offered after the student has the option to select milk. Signage should state clearly that water is not a meal component. If the school is not participating in Offer versus Serve (OVS), a reimbursable meal must contain milk in addition to the other required meal components. However, if the school participates in OVS, the student has the option to decline milk. Whenever choices are available, meal identification signs that instruct students on how much food may be selected from each meal component are required (7 CFR 210.10(a)(2)). Commercially packaged water and potable water should not be made available in any manner that interferes with selection of components of the reimbursable meal, including low-fat or fat-free milk.