Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Committee Chair

Steven Bingham


The Association of School and Curriculum Development (ASCD), one of the world’s largest education profession organizations and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called for a “greater alignment between education and health to improve each child’s cognitive, physical, social and emotional development” (ASCD, 2014, p. 6). Lack of attention to the factors impacting learning can prevent students from reaching their full academic potential because education practitioners are failing to meet their students’ non-instructional needs (ASCD, n.d.). Nothing is more basic than water. Repeated studies have identified hydration as an important factor in learning (Bar-David, Urkin, & Kozminsky, 2005; Edmonds & Burford, 2009; Edmonds & Jeffes, 2009); yet according to Kenney, Gortmaker, and Cohen (2016), “access to clean, functioning free drinking water sources in schools may be limited, and compliance with state and federal policies to establish free drinking water access is low in many schools” (p. 28). Despite the mandate stating the provisions of the federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA; United States Government Publishing Office, 2010), student access to clean drinking water remains limited in schools (Cradock, Wilking, Olliges, & Gortmaker, 2012; Jones, 2016; Kenney et al., 2016). Lack of or poor access to water could result in students not consuming enough to meet their daily needs (Patel & Hampton, 2011). This could yield a negative impact on student achievement (Bar-David et al., 2005; Fuchs, Luhrmann, & Simpson, 2016). The purpose of this cross-site case study was to examine the degree to which schools in a southeastern state school district are implementing the free, potable water subsection of HHFKA. Using a purposive sample, the researcher observed school food service practices in three middle schools and interviewed school and district food service managers. Constant-comparative analysis of interview transcripts and field notes (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) demonstrated wide variance of both knowledge and practice across sites and among interviewed participants. Implications for policymakers and practitioners include greater training of child nutrition professionals, school leaders, and classroom teachers.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Included in

Education Commons