H E A LT H
A CALL TO ACTION
When the drinking water in many of our nation’s public schools became suspect, hint founder and CEO Kara Goldin began mobilizing to bring healthy beverage alternatives to students. In the past year, she has taken the cause to Washington. BY JIM SERVIN crusade) to encourage Americans to improve their health by drinking more water. Now, with a crisis looming in our schools, Goldin has taken the cause of getting healthier beverages to kids all the way to Washington D.C., where for the past year, she has met with a bipartisan lineup of politicians including senators Stabenow (D-MI), Roberts (R-KS), King (I-Maine), Feinstein (D-CA), Harris (D-CA), Shelby (R-AL) and Chairman Grassley (R-IA). “All are excited about our initiative to bring water to our children,” Goldin says, “but it is slow going for sure with shutdowns. One senator said to me, ‘I’ve got to tell you. You’re one of the only beverage executives here. Why do you think that is?” I said, ‘We’re not doing this as a money-making initiative. Sure, if we got hint into schools, it would be more exposure for our brand, and we’d be helping kids get healthy, but at the end of the day, we’re offering to do it for cost.’ That’s the problem—you’ve got large soda companies that don’t view this as important, because it’s not where they’re going to make lots of money.” The source of much of the lead and arsenic content in school water is, Goldin says, old pipes in the buildings. “The only way to fix arsenic in drinking fountains is to change the pipes. That means digging up streets—there’s a lot of work involved in doing that. Unfortunately, a lot of work means a lot of funding.” The next step in Goldin’s game plan: a widespread call to action. “I urge people to phone their local public schools, any school with federal funding,” she says. “Find out what the water test reports look like. Then call your local senator. In order to get senators and Congress to move on this initiative of helping our kids in schools, we need to be the voice of creating awareness, and get people to understand that it’s no longer as easy as going and filling up your SIGG bottle with water from the drinking fountain, when we live in a time when we don’t even necessarily have clean drinking water available at public schools. My goal is to make sure that more people are aware. This for me is a mission. It’s the right thing to do.”drinkhint.com
Mother of four and crusading wellness-beverage exec Kara Goldin, founder and CEO of hint water, says that all of her kids attended public schools, K-8, and “I never had to worry about them drinking fountain water.” With her youngest now in 8th grade, a basic fact of life that Americans once took for granted has changed, with last year’s study from the U.S. Government Accountability Office showing that an estimated 37 percent of public school districts have excessive levels of lead content in drinking water, among the 43 percent of school districts who tested for lead in 2017. “It’s pretty scary,” Goldin says. “We’re not even just talking about Flint, Michigan.” While no federal law mandates testing of drinking water for lead in schools, the public systems that supply the water are monitored by the EPA. This bombshell revelation follows the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recent recall of initiatives instituted by the Obama administration to give public school kids healthier lunches (macaroni and cheese is back, along with nonskim chocolate milk). Another factor in play is the National Dairy Council’s lock on the beverages served at public schools: kids’ choices are limited to milk, orange juice and tap water. A January report in Bloomberg cites a source stating that federally subsidized school meals account for 7.6 percent of the nation’s total fluid milk sales, two-thirds of which is flavored. The accumulation of unfavorable circumstances surrounding public school children and their beverage intake has spurred Goldin to action.“Natural flavored water,” she says, “is an alternative kids deserve. They shouldn’t just have options of milk and orange juice.” Goldin has continually sought creative ways to make the world a healthier place, as she did in 2005 by introducing hint, a privately owned brand of water with natural flavors—ranging from honeycrisp apple and watermelon to blackberry, pineapple, mango, grapefruit and cherry—minus sweeteners and preservatives. Hint was a hit, earning the approval of Michelle Obama, who in 2013 asked Goldin to join her and the Partnership for a Healthier America team (in conjunction with, but independent from the former first lady’s “Let’s Move!”
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Published on Apr 16, 2019