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Big companies step up to deliver bottled water to Flint children

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Four of the nation’s largest bottled water distributors are pledging to donate millions of bottles to children in Flint.

The city’s drinking water is contaminated with lead.   And lead can have a detrimental effect on the health and development of young children.

Walmart, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestle say they will give more than six million bottles of water to take care of the needs of 10,000 Flint area school-aged children through this year.

Kathleen McLaughlin is the president of the Walmart Foundation. She says there are still some issues to be worked out.

“One is logistics, getting the water to the kids, and the other is recycling on the back end,” says McLaughlin.

Flint Community Schools started handing out bottled water to students last September, as concern grew about possible lead contamination in the water.

Last fall, tests showed high lead levels in the drinking water in some Flint schools. 

The district’s bottled water effort mainly relied on charitable donations.

“This will ensure us that we’ll be able to continue to meet our need,” says Bilal Tawwab, the superintendent of Flint Community Schools.

The bottled water donation from the big four companies will not all come at once. It will be spread out through the year and will include food banks and community centers for those times when schools are not in session. 

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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