Shaker Heights City School District
Policy for Unpaid Meal Charges
Shaker Heights City School District’s Food Service Program recognizes that adequate nutrition is essential to students’ mental, physical and academic growth. All children (grades K-12) participating in the School Breakfast Program (SBP) and the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), whether at a free, reduced or paid rate, will receive a full reimbursable breakfast and/or lunch meal that meets USDA requirements regardless of whether the students have sufficient money in the meal-charge accounts or cash-in-hand to pay for the cost of the meal at the time of the service.
This policy is established to provide consistent meal charge account procedures throughout the District.
- To treat all students and families with dignity and respect.
- To support positive situations with District staff, District business policies, students and parents/guardians to the maximum extent possible.
- To establish a consistent District policy regarding charges and collection of charges.
- To encourage parents and guardians to assume the responsibility of meal payments and to promote self-responsibility of the student.
Parents/Guardians are responsible for paying for all of their student’s meal charges. Uncollected meal charges shall be handled the same as any other school debt. Repeated failure to address meal charges may result in referral to an agency for collection. All meals eaten before a free or reduced price meal application is processed or approved are the responsibility of the parent and must be paid for in a timely manner.
Food Service Department
The Food Service Department is responsible to provide a standard meal which meets the School Breakfast Program (SBP) or National School Lunch Program (NSLP) requirements to all students. If a student does not have adequate money in his/her student account or in hand to cover the cost of the meal at the time of the service, a standard meal will be provided and charged against the student’s account. School employees shall not provide an alternate meal or otherwise call attention to the student who has forgotten or lost meal money. Any unpaid meal will be charged to the student’s account.
The Food Service Department will issue a notice to parent(s) whose student(s) has a low-balance or delinquent account. Twice a month, the Food Service Department will run a report showing all student accounts with a food account balance of $10.00 or less. The Food Service Department will provide this notification letter to the respective school office which will send the notice to the parent(s).
Additionally, within a week of the end of the semester, the end of the third quarter, and the end of the school year, the Food Service Department will send a letter and a copy of this policy for unpaid meal charges to the household of any student with a negative balance asking that the balance be paid.
The Food Service Department is responsible for maintaining charge records and notifying the Treasurer’s Office of outstanding balances.
The School District is responsible for supporting the Food Service Department in debt collection activities. Unpaid meal charges will be carried over at the end of the school year as a delinquent debt and collection efforts may continue into next school year.
Federal guidelines prohibit the Food Service Department from writing off bad debts as a result of charged meals. Every effort will be made to collect for unpaid meals. While not all inclusive, these measures may include the following:
- An automated telephone call to the parent.
- An email sent to the parent.
- School meal/lunch coordinator contacts parent(s) by phone or sends notices to place in teachers’ mailboxes for students.
- School meal/lunch coordinator sends letters home from the Food Service Department
The school principal is responsible to provide support to contact parents with delinquent or low-balance accounts. When a student repeatedly comes to school without a meal from home or money to participate in the school meal program, such requests may indicate the family’s need for free or reduced price meals. School administrators should work with the family to apply for school meal benefits. School administrators should consider if circumstances in the home warrant contacting social workers or Child Protective Services.
Once a student has a food account balance of negative $25.00, a representative of the school, as designated by the principal, will make every effort to contact and speak with the student’s parent/guardian to discuss the overdue balance, the possible need to apply for free or reduced cost meals, and the importance of of paying the existing balance.
This policy for unpaid meal charges is designed to ensure that all students, who want to eat a school meal, receive a complete standard meal without impediment(s). This policy should be reviewed with all school level staff (including school nurses, guidance counselors, principals, assistant principals and other administrators).