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Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation Invests $685,000 in Iowa Schools with Rethink Your Drink Program

Posted on December 11, 2019 in Foundation

Children filling water bottle

Students and staff in 143 additional schools across Iowa have a healthy new feature in their school buildings this fall. Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation, along with several public/private partners, donated more than $685,000 in Elkay water bottle filling stations, toothbrushes, water bottles and Rethink Your Drink educational kits, which will impact 77,100 students and staff members. Since 2017, Delta Dental has invested more than $1,195,000 in the Rethink Your Drink program designed to educate Iowa students on the benefits of drinking water.

“Rethink Your Drink has expanded in three years to reach 258 schools which impacts more than 134,700 students and staff members,” said Jeff Russell, president, Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation. “This program educates students while improving their oral and overall health by making drinking water more accessible. And we believe their new hydration knowledge follows them home, which ultimately improves the health of Iowa families as well.”

More than 50 percent of children and teens in the U.S. are not properly hydrated during the school day, which can impact learning and energy levels. The new water bottle filling stations, which replace older water fountains, makes drinking water more accessible for students and staff to stay hydrated with drinking water throughout the school day. The Rethink Your Drink educational kits assist school nurses and teachers to educate students about their beverage choices.

"With the help of the Rethink Your Drink educational kits, students are able to visualize the amount of sugar contained in sweetened beverages and use this knowledge to make healthier choices,” said Melissa Walker, school nurse consultant, Iowa Department of Education. “They are taught about alternative options, such as adding fruit to your water, and are also taught about eating healthy hydrating foods. They are also realizing the impact they're making on the environment by using reusable bottles instead of plastic.”

A new element of Rethink Your Drink in 2019 included educational kits and toothbrushes for dentists who participate in the Give Smiles program from Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation. Dentists can utilize the kits and toothbrushes for educational outreach in their communities. The Foundation is also seeking opportunities for water filling stations in outdoor recreational areas and trails and in facilities and centers serving older Iowans.

Preference was given to schools with a higher percentage of free and reduced lunches in the school district and buildings that did not already have a water bottle filling station. The program, “Rethink Your Drink,” is funded by Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation and supported by the Healthiest State Initiative, Iowa Department of Public Health Bureau of Nutrition Physical Activity, Iowa Public Health Association, Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Department on Aging and In Depth Marketing.

Click here to see a complete list of the 143 schools added in 2019.