Pepsi Beverages Company donated 9,600 bottles of water to the Yuba County Office of Education to help keep students hydrated through the end of the school year.

School drinking fountains have been shut down due to COVID-19 and guidance issued by the California Department of Public Health that advises schools to consider suspending or modifying the use of site resources that necessitate sharing or touching items.

Schools have suspended the use of drinking fountains, so students are encouraged to bring reusable water bottles. However, some families may not have the means to buy a reusable bottle and teachers have been buying cases of water to help those students.

Jeff Stephens from SAYLove and Stephanie McKenzie from the Yuba-Sutter Community Taskforce decided to help address the need.

Stephens said SAYLove has worked with Pepsi before and they agreed to donate bottles of water.

“My concern was for the students and the teachers as temperatures begin to warm,” Stephens said in a press release. “To think of a possibility that a student may go without water because of an issue caused by the pandemic was unacceptable. Pepsi was very generous in stepping up and solving the issue.”

Amy Nore, communications coordinator with the Yuba County Office of Education, said the need was expressed during a Yuba-Sutter Community Taskforce meeting.

“Express a need at the community taskforce meeting and it is met before you know it,” McKenzie said in a press release. “Our taskforce forum truly is an effective means of connecting people, resources and ideas to meet needs in our community. As a kindergarten teacher for (Marysville Joint Unified School District), I am so grateful for Pepsi’s donation because this will make the management of providing water to my students so simple.”

The Yuba County Office of Education is also working on a long-term solution and has submitted grant applications to replace the outdated drinking fountains throughout the county with touchless water bottle filling stations.

“We are so excited to welcome children back into the classroom and happy to assist in the water bottle distribution to our schools,” said Francisco Reveles, Yuba County superintendent of schools, in a press release. “With warmer weather in the forecast, it is comforting to know our students will stay hydrated as they go throughout their school day.”

Nore said water bottles will be distributed to schools throughout the county.

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