Meal Charge Policy
Meal Charge Policy
School Board Policy 6700P outlines our procedures for school meal charges. In order to allow students to receive nutritious meals, prevent over-identification of students with insufficient funds to pay for school meals, and maintain the financial integrity of the nonprofit school nutrition program, the District will establish a written meal charge process for students eligible for reduced price meals and students that are not eligible for meals. The meal charge policy will be communicated to households each year so that school district employees, families and students have a shared understanding of expectations regarding meal charges.
Unpaid Meal Charges
If a student has not paid for five or more previous meals, the school will:
- Determine whether the student is categorically eligible for free meals;\
- If no application has been submitted for the student to determine his or her eligibility for free or reduced-price meals, make no fewer than two attempts to contact the student’s parent or guardian to have him or her submit an application; and
- Have a principal, assistant principal, or school counselor contact the parent or guardian for the purpose of:
(a) Offering assistance with completing an application to determine the student’s eligibility for free or reduced-price meals;
(b) Determining whether there are any household issues that may prevent the student from having sufficient funds for school meals; and
(c) Offering any other appropriate assistance.
No school or school district personnel or school volunteer may:
- Take any action that would publicly identify a student who cannot pay for a school meal or for meals previously served to the student, including but not limited to requiring the student to wear a wristband, hand stamp, or other identifying markers, or by serving the student an alternative meal;
- Require a student who cannot pay for a school meal or for meals previously served to the student to perform chores or other actions in exchange for a meal or for the reduction or elimination of a school meal debt, unless all students perform similar chores or work;
- Require a student to dispose of an already-served meal because of the student’s inability to pay for the meal or because of money owed for meals previously served to the student;
- Allow any disciplinary action that is taken against a student to result in the denial or delay of a nutritionally adequate meal to the student; or
- Require a parent or guardian to pay fees or costs in excess of the actual amounts owed for meals previously served to the student.
Communication About Negative Account Balances
Communications for a school or school district about amounts owed for meals previously served to a student under the age of fifteen may only be directed to the student’s parent or guardian. Neither this policy nor chapter 28A.235 RCW prohibits the district from sending a student home with a notification that is addressed to the student’s parent or guardian.
A parent or guardian will be notified of a negative balance of a student’s meal account no later than ten days after the student’s school meal account has reached a negative balance. Within thirty (30) days of sending this notification, the district will exhaust all options to directly certify the student for free or reduced-price meals. Within these thirty days, while the district is attempting to certify the student for free or reduced-price meals, the student may not be denied access to a school meal unless the district determines that the student is ineligible for free or reduced-price meals.
If the district is unable to directly certify the student for free or reduced-price meals, the school district will provide the parent or guardian with a paper copy of, or an electronic link to, an application for free or reduced-price meals with the negative-balance notification described above and encourage the parent or guardian to submit the application.
The district’s Meal Charge Policy will also address unpaid meal charges. Students who qualify for free meals will not be denied a reimbursable meal, even if they have accrued a negative balance from previous purchases. Students with outstanding meal charge debt will be allowed to purchase a meal if the student pays for the meal when it is received.
The District will make reasonable, discrete efforts to notify families when meal account balances are low through use of automated email and calling systems, and letters sent home. Families will be notified of any outstanding negative balance. Families with negative balance will also receive verbal communication from the school principal or his/her designee
Negative balances of more than $100 not paid prior to the end of the school year will be considered delinquent debt and will be turned over to the superintendent or designee for collection. The District will make reasonable, discrete efforts to collect delinquent (overdue) unpaid meal charges, which is an allowable use of National School Food Service Account (NSFSA) funds, and will coordinate communications with families to resolve the charges. Options may include collection agencies, small claims court or any other collection method permitted by law and consistent with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.