Policy 5659 Charging School Meals

Monroe-Woodbury Central School District Policy
Adopted: September 9, 2020

CHARGING SCHOOL MEALS

The Board of Education operates and maintains a point of sale system for the purpose of providing parents/guardians of students enrolled in the School District with the ability to fund school meals. The School District’s point of sale system allows for automatic replenishment when a balance reaches a certain amount set by the parent/guardian of the student. The School District will encourage parents/guardians of students in the School District to avail themselves of this option. Funds remaining in a student’s school meal account at the end of a school year will be carried over to the next school year. When a student ceases attendance in the School District and/or graduates from the School District, the School District shall/will refund any funds remaining in the student’s account to the parent/guardian upon request. Parents/guardians may request that said remaining funds be transferred to one of their other children who remain enrolled in the School District. Unclaimed funds remaining after ninety (90) days shall be retained in the school meal account.

The Board of Education recognizes that, on occasion, students may not have sufficient funds for a meal. To ensure that students do not go hungry, but also to promote responsible student behavior and minimize the fiscal burden to the School District, the Board of Education will allow students whose accounts do not have sufficient funds available for a meal, to “charge” the cost of meals to be paid back at a later date subject to the terms in this policy. The School District shall not charge any interest or fees in connection with any meals charged. Nothing in this policy is intended to allow for the unlimited accrual of debt.

Students whose parents or guardians have unpaid school meal fees shall not be shamed or treated differently than a student whose parent or guardian does not have unpaid school meals fees. To that end, the School District shall provide each student with the student’s meal of choice for that school day of the reimbursable meal choices, if the student requests one, regardless of unpaid school meal fees. A student’s parent or guardian may provide written permission to the School District to withhold a meal in the event of unpaid meal charges in excess of those permitted herein.

As part of its efforts to decrease student distress or embarrassment connected with unpaid meal charges, the School District shall not:

  1. publicly identify or stigmatize a student who cannot pay for a meal or who owes a meal debt by any means including, but not limited to, requiring that a student wear a wristband or hand stamp;
  2. require a student who cannot pay for a meal or who owes a meal debt to do chores or other work to pay for meals;
  3. require that a student throw away a meal after it has been served because of the student’s inability to pay for the meal or because money is owed for earlier meals;
  4. take any action directed at a pupil to collect unpaid school meal fees. A school or the school district may attempt to collect unpaid school meal fees from a parent or guardian, but shall not use a debt collector; or e. discuss any outstanding meal debt in the presence of other students.

To comply with State guidelines, maintain a system for accounting for charged meals, regarding both full and reduced-price meals, and to establish a procedure for handling unpaid meal charges, the School District shall:

  1. allow only regular reimbursable meals to be charged;
  2. limit the number of charges to five (5) outstanding charges per student;
  3. use a computer-generated point of sale system, which identifies and records all meals as well as collects repayments;
  4. notify parents on a timely basis of outstanding charges by telephone, email or by mail;
  5. provide parents with an opportunity to establish a repayment schedule for outstanding meal charges;
  6. determine eligibility for free or reduced-price meals when a student owes money for five or more meals;
  7. contact personnel, such as Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) staff, to do the following:
    1. make every attempt to determine if a student is directly certified to be eligible for free meals;
    2. make at least two attempts, not including the application or instructions included in a school enrollment packet, to reach the student’s parent or guardian and have the parent or guardian fill out a meal application; and
    3. contact the parent or guardian to offer assistance with a meal application, determine if there are other issues within the household that have caused the child to have insufficient funds to purchase a school meal and offer any other assistance that is appropriate.

Charged meals must be counted and claimed for reimbursement on the day that the student charged (received) the meal. Students shall not be denied a reimbursable meal.

Families may apply for free-reduced price meals at any time during the school year. The School District’s administration will discretely notify parent/guardians of students who regularly have insufficient funds in their school meal accounts of the application process for free and/or reduced price meals. Information concerning the availability of free and reduced price meals will be provided to the parents/guardians of all students enrolled in the School District prior to the start of the school year. Parents/guardians will be advised that the application for free-reduced price meals is available in English and Spanish on the School District’s website and at all schools in the School District. If the School District becomes aware that a student who has not submitted a meal application is likely eligible for free or reduced-fee meals, the school administrator may complete and file an application for the student pursuant to determining eligibility for free and reduced price meals.

The School District shall provide a free, printed meal application in every school enrollment packet, or if the school or school district chooses to use an electronic meal application, provide in school enrollment packets an explanation of the electronic meal application process and instructions for how parents or guardians may request a paper application at no cost. In addition, the School District will notify all parents/guardians on an annual basis prior to the opening day of school and, in the case of transfer students at the time of transfer, outlining the requirements of this policy. The policy shall also be published in appropriate school and School District publications.

The school homeless liaisons shall coordinate with the nutrition department to make sure that homeless, foster, and migrant students receive free school meals, in accordance with federal law.

The School District will provide training to staff concerning the procedures to be utilized in the event a student’s unpaid meal charges exceed five (5) outstanding charges and the manner in which affected parents/guardians will be provided with assistance in establishing eligibility for free or reduced-price meals.

Staff:

Staff members are allowed to purchase food from the School District’s food services. However, all purchases must be on a cash or pre-pay basis. Staff members will not be allowed to charge meals.

Cross-ref:

5660 Free and Reduced Price Food Services
5661 Health and Wellness Policy
Ref: 42 USC §1779 (Child Nutrition Act of 1966)
42 USC §§1758(f)(1); 1766(a) (National School Lunch Act)
2 CFR 200.426
7 CFR 210.9, 210.12, 210.19, 220.13, 245.5
Public Law 111-296, §143
New York Education Law §908

Monroe-Woodbury Central School District