Healthy Schools Bermuda

by HCC
Bermuda Schools water only policy

Students at refillable water station in Bermuda

Highlights from Healthy Schools Bermuda

  • Healthy school programmes in all schools
  • Cafeteria and Vending Machine policy introduced in 2006
  • Water-only policies introduced by the schools
  • All government schools have filtered water fountains

With Bermuda’s rate of overweight or obese adults at 74%, early intervention and the promotion of healthier habits in schools and young children is a priority for the Ministry of Health and Seniors. In 2006, the Vending Machine and Cafeteria Policy that was introduced by the Ministry of Health and Seniors’, Healthy Schools Coordinator, Mrs. Marie Beach Johnson. The Cafeteria and Vending Machine Policy required that Government schools only supply water and/or 100% juice in vending machines and during meals. As Healthy Schools represents the link between health and education, the policy was approved by both the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health and Seniors, after consultation with government school principals and companies that supplied school vending machines. Through consistent encouragement from Mrs. Beach Johnson, all government schools made their beverage vending machines compliant with the policy within one school year and continue to do so. Mrs. Beach Johnson also introduced the policy to the private schools in 2006, which have all made their beverage machines compliant within 1 – 2 years too.

In 2009, St. George’s Preparatory, a Government primary school took the tenets of the Vending Machine and Cafeteria Policy further and became the first school to adopt a Water-Only Policy, which allows only water in the school, including in lunches from home. The students receive reminders from teachers and principals as needed, and the beverage machine provides only plain, unsweetened water.

Since the implementation of the Cafeteria and Vending Machine Policy in 2006, 12 more public and private schools and three preschools in Bermuda have taken this a step further and introduced Water-Only Policies; while an additional four practice or promote water-only behaviors throughout the school day.

For the last 11 years, with consistent health messages from the Ministry of Health and Seniors’ dental and oral health officers, school nurses and nutritionists, a new generation of children has gained an understanding of the importance of drinking water.

Ten years ago, the Ministry of Education installed filtered water fountains, which also use UV technology to kill bacteria, in all government schools. Furthermore, to support the grassroots adoption of water-only policies in schools, the Ministry of Education installed refillable water stations in five of their schools, last year. Schools encourage and allow their students to refill their reusable water bottles throughout the school day and sip water at their desks.

Mrs. Beach Johnson, Health Schools Coordinator, said:

The promotion of water in schools not only leads to less sugar in children’s diets, but healthier habits for later in life.

Bermuda Ministry of Education & Department of Health Partnership: Healthy Schools: Vending Machines and Cafeteria Policy in Schools. Policy: Vending machines and cafeterias on the school premises will provide plain, unsweetened water, milk, and/or 100% juice; and healthy foods and snacks. Read the full policy document here.

Find-out more on the Ministry of Health and Seniors website here.

Prepared by: Robyn Skinner, Policy Analyst, Government of Bermuda, Ministry of Health and Seniors

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