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Free meals at some Sacramento swimming pools for kids from low-income families

Starting Monday, June 16, 2014 kids can find something not offered at local swimming spots since the 1980s: a free summer meal, says a June 9, 2014 Sacramento Bee article by Isabelle Taft, "Sacramento City Unified brings free meals to pools this summer." According to the Sacramento Bee article, the new initiative is part of an expansion of Sacramento City Unified School District’s summer meal program, aimed at providing underprivileged kids with nutritious food when schools close.

Free meals at some Sacramento swimming pools for kids from low-income families.
Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images

The Sacramento City Unified School District’s costs are reimbursed by the federal government, and meals must meet nutrition standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If you look at the statistics, the Sacramento Bee article notes that approximately 7 in 10 Sacramento City Unified students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch based on low income for each family.

The 2013 statistics show that the Sacramento City Unified School District served 5,000 meals a day at 38 sites across the city. Statistics reveal that in 2014 there are 42, including six city pools and the Police Activities League. You may wish to check out the site, "Youth Free Lunch Program - City of Sacramento."

The free Lunch program is a federally-funded child nutrition program sponsored locally the City of Sacramento Department of Parks and Recreation. Any child ages 1-18 can show up at a summer food site (there are more than 125 sites in Sacramento County) and eat a free lunch. This program is intended to provide the nutritious lunch that so many kids depend on during the summer months, when school is out of session. Sites are located in kid-friendly places such as parks, recreation centers and apartment complexes. For more information, check out the website, Youth Free Lunch Program.

Not all the children in Sacramento who need and qualify for the free meal are getting the food

During vacation months, there are a lot of families that are not able to stretch their tight food budgets to feed children during the daytime, for example lunch or breakfast. If you check out the website of the California Food Policy Advocates, you can find out more information. Hunger doesn't stop just because school and free school lunches finish being served for the summer. Some kids qualify for free food in schools during the school year, and others qualify for reduced-priced lunches, depending upon their family's income.

In 2012, CFPA engaged in a strategic planning process to establish programmatic and organizational priorities for the next three years. You can learn more about CFPA's goals for 2013-16 by reading the CFPA's strategic plan. See: CFPA 2013-2016 Strategic Plan PDF. Also the CFPA's Nutrition Action Alerts provide readers with timely updates on food and nutrition policies affecting low-income Californians. We only send out alerts as needed. On average, you can expect three or four per month. Some months are slower and others are busier. See, "Nutrition Action Alert 6.4.2014."

More families need to know where kids can get a free meal if their parents can't afford to feed them

According to California Food Policy Advocates, only 14 percent of needy students receive summer meals throughout Sacramento County. Across California, it adds up in 2013 to about 1.9 million kids falling into the nutrition gap, falling through the crevices. On the other hand, the numbers are improving each year. Compare that figure to the 2.1 million qualified students who did not receive summer meals in 2011 and 2012. The number of meals served are increasing, and at least the federal level is taking more of an interest in expanding participation in summer meal programs as a major priority for the USDA.

The USDA named California as one of five focus states to receive federal assistance to help school districts and community organizations communicate about the best ways to make sure kids have access to nutritious foods, notes the Sacramento Bee article.

Kids won't have to pay a fee to get into the swimming pool area in order to get a meal

The city school district will serve lunch just outside the pool entrance, so kids don’t have to pay a fee to access the food. You have low-income families who need the nutrition, but can't afford the entrance fee for children to get into the pool area. It's expected that up to 100 people daily will be fed. How will this number of children waiting for a free meal affect the pool employees? Will anyone buy food for kids who can't afford the food, if there's a charge?

If you check out the local food bank in Sacramento, it serves over 60,000 meals per month during July and August, compared with about 54,000 in June and September. There's more donations and support from the public in winter months because of the holidays. But when the school year is over for the summer, that leaves hungry children from low-income families and fewer donations to feed kids for free, kids who qualify for free lunches at schools during the school year.

There's a pool problem when kids start to swim in in public places because swimmers forget to shower before they enter the pool

People of all ages using public swimming pools generally don't shower before entering the pool, not realizing that most people have a certain amount of fecal matter leaking in the perineum area that washes off in the pool. The fecal contamination of swimming pools isn't coming just from babies in diapers in a pool. They may wipe themselves in other areas of the body, forgetting that feces leaks into the perineum and then washes off into the public swimming pool. That's how most swimming pools get contaminated with fecal material.

Additionally, there's the problem of urine in the public pools. The solution is getting children and adults to shower or wash themselves in that are of the body before entering the pool. The contamination usually is blamed on diapers and toddlers, but the real culprit is people aren't washing before entering the swimming pool, and with no bidets, paper doesn't help the smearing and leaking that comes with a day of walking and other activity or exercise.

Too many people are urinating and defecating in public swimming pools and hot tubs, whether at resorts, parks, spas, athletic gyms, fitness centers, or in apartment complex courtyards swimming pools. At the same time, research links recreational pool disinfectants to health problems such as asthma and bladder cancer. And to top that, the nitrogen in urine destroys chlorine in swimming pools.

The CDC recently found feces in public swimming pools. Check out the CBS news article, "CDC finds public swimming pools rife with fecal contamination." The CDC found fecal contamination in nearly 60 percent of pools tested in a recent study. CDC urges more showering before swimming and not swallowing pool water. The feces-contaminated pool water gets into your ears, eyes, nose, and mouth when you swim, and it's not the same as fish waste, washed out to sea or eaten by bottom feeders or subject to ocean waves when swimming pools are contaminated. The chlorine won't work because urine destroys its effectiveness.

Disinfectant in public swimming pools can cause asthma or bladder cancer and other adverse health effects, says a recent University of Illinois study. Splashing around in a swimming pool on a hot summer day may not be as safe as you think.

A recent University of Illinois study links the application of disinfectants in recreational pools to previously published adverse health outcomes such as asthma and bladder cancer. Signs and mugs, bumper stickers and other accessories blare the message, "Don't pee in our pool, and I won't swim in your toilet." The July 2010 study was published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

Each year, 339 million visits take place at pools and water parks across the United States

Not only is swimming fun, but it's also the second most popular form of exercise in the country. Because of this, disinfection of recreational pools is critical to prevent outbreaks of infectious disease.

However, Michael Plewa, University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences professor of genetics, said negative outcomes can occur when disinfection byproducts form reactions with organic matter in pool water. Pool water represents extreme cases of disinfection that differ from the disinfection of drinking water as pools are continuously exposed to disinfectants.

"All sources of water possess organic matter that comes from decaying leaves, microbes and other dead life forms," Plewa says in the July 21, 2010 news release, Research links recreational pool disinfectants to health problems, "In addition to organic matter and disinfectants, pool waters contain sweat, hair, skin, urine, and consumer products such as cosmetics and sunscreens from swimmers."

These consumer products are often nitrogen-rich, causing concern that they may contribute to the generation of nitrogenous disinfection byproducts, Plewa added. When mixed with disinfectants, these products may become chemically modified and converted into more toxic agents. These disinfection byproducts can mutate genes, induce birth defects, accelerate the aging process, cause respiratory ailments, and even induce cancer after long-term exposures. In this study, collections from public pools and a control sample of tap water were evaluated to identify recreational water conditions that could be harmful to your health.

A systematic mammalian cell genotoxicity analysis was used to compare the water samples

Plewa said this sensitive DNA technology examined genomic damage in mammalian cells, allowing researchers to investigate damage at the level of each nucleus within each cell. The study compared different disinfection methods and environmental conditions. Results proved that all disinfected pool samples exhibited more genomic DNA damage than the source tap water, Plewa explains in the news release.

"Care should be taken in selecting disinfectants to treat recreational pool water," Plewa advises. "The data suggest that brominating agents should be avoided as disinfectants of recreational pool water. The best method to treat pool waters is a combination of UV treatment with chlorine as compared to chlorination alone."

Plewa recommends that organic carbon be removed prior to disinfection when the pool water is being recycled. Also, swimmers can help reduce the genotoxicity of pool water by showering before entering the water. Pool owners should also remind patrons about the potential harm caused by urinating in a pool. These simple steps can greatly reduce the precursors of toxic disinfection byproducts, Plewa explains in the news release.

This research was published in Environmental Science & Technology and supported by grants from the National Science Foundation. Researchers included Michael Plewa and Elizabeth Wagner of the U of I, Danae Liviac of The Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, and William Mitch and Matthew Altonji of Yale University.

Urban myths about used bathwater as a possible cause of pregnancy

Urban myths broadcast weird news that explains modern virgin births happening when in crowded households where used bathwater is put to use to bathe an entire family, including pubescent/ teenage children, it's possible for a female to conceive from bathing in the used bathwater, used by all the males in the family. Urban myth says it could even happen in a public swimming pool when the chlorine is no longer effective due to sunlight, sweat, body fluids, and other chemicals. See, " Ejaculate in Bath Water Causes Pregnancy."

The urban myths were rampant in the days when families shared public bathrooms with several apartments on each floor of an apartment building and bathed in used bathwater, such as the turn-of-the-century crowded tenements of large cities or during WWII when there was water rationing in some European countries. The fear usually was of bathing in the used bathwater first used by males in the family. Those with families using bathwater that all family members bathed in may have had a rule where women bathe first, and then the males used the bathwater to supposedly prevent a possible pregnancy from bathing in water first used by male family members, especially teenage siblings.

Don't urinate in my pool, and I won't swim in your toilet, say some signs

Too many adults and children are urinating in public swimming pools. And nitrogen in urine destroys the chlorine in swimming pools. In the "Smart Mouths" column of the August 4, 2012 Sacramento Bee, there's a quote from TV personality Conan O'Brien, "A former U.S. Olympic swimmer in an interview said that nearly all elite competitive swimmers pee in the pool regularly. So apparently I am an elite competitive swimmer."

See, Please Don't Pee In Our Pool Sign Swimming Accessories or Don't pee in my pool and I won't swim in your toilet on Witty Profiles. You may wish to check out the August 3, 2012 article by Halle Kiefer, "Ryan Lochte Says All Olympic Swimmers Pee In The Pool." But the larger public problem is diaper feces and urine, sweat and sunscreen lotion in public pools that destroy the chlorine and contaminate the pools with bacteria and viruses.

In that article, Ryan Lochte told Ryan Seacrest that not only does he pee in the pool, so does every other Olympic swimmer as well. “Of course. We always do,” Lochte laughed. “Not during the races, but I sure did before in warm-up.” Claimed Ryan, “There’s something about getting into chlorine water that you just automatically go.” The article actually attempts to calculate how much urine would be in the swimming pool if every Olympic swimmer actually does pee in the pool.

Athletes, children, and the public all contaminate public and hotel swimming pools

If you measure the urine in the average swimming pool, it's not only athletes notorious for peeing in pools meant for athletes. It's the general public as well. The article, ""Ryan Lochte Says All Olympic Swimmers Pee In The Pool," calculates about 156 potentially peeing athletes in the final round. This is also not counting diving or synchronized swimming.

In the article, the calculations note that if all 156 swimmers only deposit two cups of pee into the pool once, that is still 19.5 gallons of urine floating around. Multiple that number by two, since each of these athletes would have had to warm up before a semifinal round. The article calculates that, "we’re looking at a bare minimum of 39 gallons of urine in the Olympic pools."

Public swimming pools may be highly contaminated, the chlorine destroyed by urine

It's a serious problem, though for the average person swimming in public pools in local areas here in Sacramento. Check out the article, "Putting the 'p' in pool: One in FIVE adults urinate in swimming pools." The real problem is the chlorine doesn't kill all the bacteria.

You've probably seen the familiar bumper sticker, wall plaque, and poster that reads, "Don't pee in my pool, and I won't swim in your toilet." The big issue is that urine in public swimming pools destroys the effectiveness of the chlorine put there to stop the growth of bacteria from public contamination.

Parents continue to bring babies in diapers to public and hotel pools for a splash

You see in both adult and children's wading pools babies in diapers put into the pools to splash around in the shallow water. Some parents take babies in diapers to hotels and immerse them up to their waist line wearing diapers in public pools.

How many swimming pools in Sacramento have been tested for bacteria to see whether the chlorine is working? You have pools at elementary schools, high schools, and on college campuses here in Sacramento and Davis. But sunscreen comes off your bodies in water as well as your sweat.

Swimming pools in Sacramento need to be tested for bacteria

The nitrogen formed from the sweat and sunscreen in addition to urine also destroy chlorine's ability to kill bacteria. On top of this, guess how many people pee in Sacramento pools and would admit it on surveys if asked locally?

According to the CDC study, about one in five adults actually admitted in a CDC survey that they have peed in a public pool, according to a national survey of 1,000 Americans done last year for a chemical industry advisory group, the Water Quality and Health Council. The survey on who desecrated the public pool is a project of the Water Quality and Health Council. Don't you wish a survey like that was done for Sacramento?

Kiddie pools are a big problem as toddlers urinate in the wading pools

When someone, usually a child, gets an upset stomach a few days after swimming in a public kiddie pool and some adult pools, it's mostly because of the bacteria coming from other children, especially feces bacteria that runs out of diapers as toddlers wade in kiddie pools.

Think those fountains that splash in parks are clean enough for your toddler? Some people hang those posters you find in hardware stores that say, "Don't pee in my pool, and I won't swim in your toilet." Many public pools have become toilets, especially children's wading pools. The bacteria may be sometimes similar to what you find in an off-leash dog park.

Some kids use public pools as a toilet such as at apartment complexes and hotels

Some kids, especially those under age 5, actually use the pool as a toilet. Some children's wading pools in inspected apartment complexes and at child care centers were full of feces, urine, and contained other harmful types of bacteria. The same contamination was found at some public pools in parks, schools, hotels, and motels.

Check out the May 21, 2010 CDC report, "Violations Identified from Routine Swimming Pool Inspections --- Selected States and Counties, United States, 2008." It's published in today's Morbidity and Mortality Report (MMWR), "Violations Identified from Routine Swimming Pool Inspections --- Selected States and Counties, United States, 2008." (May 21, 2010/59(19);582-587.

The CDC analysis suggests that efforts to prevent RWIs should focus on certain pool settings (i.e., apartment/condominium, hotel/motel, and child care) or types (i.e., kiddie/wading pools and interactive fountains). In pool settings where swimming is not the primary activity, the person responsible for pool operation likely has other competing responsibilities (e.g., heating and air conditioning maintenance).

Requiring operator training for staff responsible for pool operation might improve water quality, and should be considered for these and other pool settings. Among pool types, maintaining adequate disinfectant levels at kiddie/wading pools and interactive fountains is challenging because shallow depth, aeration, sunlight, and organic material (e.g., feces, urine, sweat, and dirt) from young children deplete disinfectant. Disinfectant and pH levels should be measured and adjusted more frequently at these pool types, particularly when bather load is high.

CDC says one in eight public pools were shut down because of dirty water, improper chlorination, or lack of safety equipment

A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) government report shows one in eight were shut down two years ago because of dirty water or other problems, like missing safety equipment. See the May 20, 2010 Associated Press news article, "CDC: Look before you leap into dirty public pools." Also check out the ABC news article, "Many Public Swimming Pools Dirty." That means most adult and children's pools are filthy, but kiddie pools were most likely to be teeming with fecal matter, bacteria, and improper chlorination.

If you look at the CDC report, it's based on inspections of more than 120,000 public swimming pools in 2008. The study covered those pools in hotels as well as public parks. When you check into a hotel with your children and a family enters the hotel or motel swimming pool together, be aware that most of those pools inspected had fecal matter and all types of harmful bacteria.

Too many people are swallowing contaminated pool water

So if you swallow the water, you're likely to get a stomach upset such as viruses in the intestines. The same thing would happen if the water went in your ears and up your nose or in your eyes. The chlorine in the inspected pools, for the most part wasn't able to kill the harmful bacteria. The water also gets into eyes, nose, and ears, causing problems for some people such as infections.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released the report on May 20, 2010. Those stomach viruses and bacterial infections may not all be attributed to bad food you ate. It could come from swimming pools, both adult or kiddie pools, although the children's pools had the most bacteria. Children, especially toddlers and preschoolers are more likely to use pools as a toilet and go unnoticed.

Studies suggest a quarter of stomach upsets, that are bacterial infections in the stomach or stomach viruses (stomach flu symptoms) and mystery stomach ailments attributed to food poisoning or even the famous cruise-and-hotel-related Norwalk virus may also be caused not only by food or infected people near you, but the swimming pool you thought was clean because it contained chlorine.

These types of stomach ailments, about a quarter of them are caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites that should have been killed by proper pool treatment and chlorination. Where do you find the most feces in swimming pools? It's in kiddie pools and fountains, and anyplace else where kids play in running, splashing, and streaming water. How about water parks?

Urine bacterial also is a menace. When kids pee in your pool or a public or hotel pool, the urine is full of nitrogen. The nitrogen from the urine destroys the chlorine in pool water.

Nitrogen in urine destroys the chlorine in swimming pools

Once the nitrogen from urine gets rid of the chlorine, the bacteria from the fecal matter and urine take over the pool and deplete enough chlorine to disable the ability of chlorine to kill bacteria and viruses.

You'll smell the chlorine, but it won't be that effective. Even if no one pees in your pool, the sweat and suntan lotion from all those swimmer's bodies also will destroy the chlorine. The same thing happens when a dog swims in a fountain or pool at a park or hotel, even if the dog is clean.

Assuming no one defecates or urinates in anyone's pool, public or private, most people aren't aware that their suntan lotion will have the same effect of knocking out the ability of chlorine to get rid of bacteria and viruses in the water in public pools where there are numerous swimmers. Another problem faced by indoor pools is 'chloramine' production that causes obnoxious odors as well as respiratory, eye, and skin irritation that swimmers mistakenly attribute to the chlorine.

CDC's swimming pool program

You might check out CDC's swimming pool program website. According to the CDC's article and website on Health Swimming, Fast Facts:

Before you go swimming, the CDC suggests buying test kits from hardware stores and checking the water at public pools. Health officials also say people who've had diarrhea shouldn't swim. Don't swallow pool water. But if it gets in your eyes or goes up your nose or down the back of your throat, it's the same bacteria invading your body and making its way to your stomach.

The CDC noted that inspections were done in 13 states, and pool regulations and reporting varied. The CDC report did not give a breakdown of pool closures from water quality or missing life rings and other safety equipment. It's not whether there's a lifeguard on duty. You're on duty supervising your kids. The problem is the kids as well as some some adults, who actually admit on a survey using the pools as a toilet.

Some parents actually take a baby in diapers into a public pool. Eight years ago a similar study resulted in closure of numerous pools. Read the new study for yourself. It's published in the May 21, 2010 CDC publication, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, "Violations Identified from Routine Swimming Pool Inspections --- Selected States and Counties, United States, 2008." Also check out the August 3, 2012 article, "Do Olympic Swimmers Pee in the Pool? - Yahoo! News."

CDC's Information on Healthy Swimming and Recreational Water

There are 8.8 million residential and public-use swimming pools in the United States (1). In the United States during 2006, there were approximately 339 million pool visits each year by persons over the age of six (2). Forty-one percent of children aged 7-17 years, and 17.4% of adults in the United States, swim at least six times per year (2).

In the United States in 2006, over 29 million individuals participated in motor or power boat activities (2). There are over 6.6 million hot tubs in operation in the United States (3). Sunburn is a risk factor for both basal cell carcinoma and melanoma (types of skin cancer). In 2003, a total of 45,625 new cases of melanoma were diagnosed in the United States, and 7,818 persons died from the disease (4). Over 11 percent (500 of 4,533) of spa inspections conducted during 2002 resulted in an immediate closure, pending the correction of the violations (5).

A total of 78 recreational water-associated outbreaks affecting 4,412 persons were reported to CDC for 2005-2006, the largest number of outbreaks ever reported in a 2-year period (6). Of 48 recreational-water associated outbreaks of gastroenteritis during 2005-2006, 64.6% were caused by one chlorine-resistant parasite: Cryptosporidium (6). Of 35 gastroenteritis outbreaks associated with treated (for example, chlorinated) recreational water venues, 82.8% were caused by Cryptosporidium (6).

Reporting of cryptosporidiosis cases increased 143 percent from 2004 (3,411) to 2007 (8,300) (7). Because of its resistance to chlorine, Cryptosporidium (Crypto) has become the leading cause of gastroenteritis outbreaks associated with swimming pool venues (8). Drowning is the 2nd leading cause of all unintentional injury deaths in children aged 1-14 years and the 7th leading cause of unintentional injury death for all ages (9).

Among 0-4 year olds, 69% of drownings for which the location was known occurred in swimming pools (10). In 2006, 3,474 persons were injured and 710 died while boating (11). The U.S. Coast Guard’s 2006 statistics stated that approximately 87 percent of boaters who drowned were not wearing life jackets (12).

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