Grant will provide funds for water bottle filling stations in USD 475 schools

Officials from Live Well Geary County and USD 475 recently celebrated a grant that will fund water bottle stations in schools. Pictured, in the front row from left, are Live Well Geary County's Susan Jagerson, USD 475 Director Student Support Services Luan Sparks, USD 475 Operations Manager Willie Delatorre and USD 475 Chief Operations Officer David Wild. In the back row is Live Well Geary County Chair Joe Handlos.

Unified School District 475 has received a $11,440 Pathways to a Healthy Kansas Implementation Grant to purchase kits to convert at least one water cooler in each school in the Geary County school district and St. Xavier to a water bottle filling station.

The equipment will enable students to have access to filtered drinking water throughout the school day. Filtered water bottle filling stations will give students the healthy drinking option they need. 

“A new policy in the 2019-2020 student handbook will allow students to have clear/translucent water bottles in the classroom where appropriate,” Luan Sparks, executive director of Student Support Services, said.

Water bottle stations will help reduce the amount of waste from plastic water bottles. Swapping out soda for water is an easy way for young kids to form healthy habits and reduce their intake of unnecessary sugar. Safe, clean, and accessible water gives students greater incentive to hydrate more often, contributing to greater energy and productivity.

Geary County is one of 16 Kansas communities selected to participate in the Pathways to a Healthy Kansas program, which is the largest community grant program ever funded by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas. Live Well Geary County has received a $100,000 coordination grant; Geary County schools, worksites, restaurants, food retail outlets and other organizations have the opportunity to apply for non-competitive implementation and achievements grants amounting to $400,000 through 2020.

Schools are able to apply for up to $60,000 in grant funds available through the Schools Pathway to enact policies and procedures to attain the modeling level of the Kansas State Department’s wellness policy guidelines in the areas of nutrition, physical activity, nutrition promotion and education.

The Pathways program provides community coalitions, like Live Well Geary County, with the tools and resources needed to remove barriers and engage their communities in ways that enable healthy eating and tobacco-free, active living to become a way of life. Funded communities work in several sectors in order to build and sustain healthy environments for their residents, including community policy, resident/community well-being, food retail, health care providers, restaurants, schools and work sites.

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