The American Water Charitable Foundation is doing its part to improve students’ access to high-quality drinking water as well as to reduce the use of bottled water.
The foundation – a 501(c)(3) organization established by Camden-based American Water – announced May 17 that it provided a $25,000 state strategic grant and that New Jersey American Water has provided more than $5,000 to fund reusable bottle filling stations in cafeterias throughout the Camden City School District.
The new stations will replace old water fountains in 18 Camden schools. Additionally, all enrolled students will receive a reusable water bottle. The district serves nearly 6,000 students, faculty and staff.
Installation of the filling stations began in March and should be completed by the end of May. The stations are being leased and maintained through a contract agreement with DS Business Life Simplified, which has offices in Kenilworth.
“No student, teacher, faculty member, or Camden resident should have to pay for bottled water when the tap water being provided meets all quality standards and is available for about a penny per gallon, versus anywhere from 86 cents to more than $8 a gallon,” Mark McDonough, president of New Jersey American Water and a foundation board member, said in a statement.
Funding was made possible through the foundation’s State Strategic Impact grant program, which was launched in 2022 to help support high-impact projects and initiatives throughout American Water’s service areas. These grants are part of the foundation’s Keep Communities Flowing program, focused on three pillars of giving: water, people and communities.
Superintendent of Camden Schools Katarina McCombs called the donation “a much-needed investment” that not only provides a healthy option for students but also “significantly reduces the district’s current spending for bottled water, which creates opportunities to invest in other school programs and initiatives.”
The initiative is part of New Jersey American Water’s participation in Full Futures: A School Nutrition Partnership, a program launched by Campbell Soup Co. and nonprofit and corporate partners in 2021. Full Futures works to ensure that all students are well-nourished and “ready to thrive.”
Kate Barrett, president of the Campbell Soup Foundation, thanked New Jersey American Water and its foundation for the “generous donation.”
Camden Mayor Victor Carstarphen added, “Once again, American Water is providing meaningful investment in our shared community. Not only do they invest in their infrastructure that treats and delivers our water every day, but they are helping our children make a healthy beverage choice, while helping our schools reduce the amount of money spent on bottled water, and helping encourage people to stop using and discarding single-use plastic bottles that end up littering our streets and waterways.”