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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 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.
Policy Goals:
  1. To treat all students and families with dignity and respect.
  2. To establish a consistent District policy regarding charges and collection of charges.
  3. To encourage parents and guardians to assume the responsibility of meal payments and to promote self-responsibility of the student.
  4. To support positive interactions with District staff, District business policies, students and parents/guardians to the maximum extent possible.
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. Parents are encouraged to use PaySchools Central to pay for meals and/or to track purchases made by their student(s). Parents, who wish to prohibit their students from charging meals, can contact the Food Service Department and request the student account be closed.
Food Service Department 
The Food Service Department is responsible for maintaining charge records and notifying the Treasurer’s Office of outstanding balances. The Food Service Department will issue a notice to parent(s) whose student(s) has a delinquent account. Twice a month, the Food Service Department will run a report showing all student accounts with a negative food account balance. The Food Service Department will provide this notification letter to the respective school office which will send the notice to the parent(s).

The Food Service Department is responsible in providing a meal which meets the School Breakfast Program (SBP) or National School Lunch Program (NSLP) requirements to all students. If a student has a negative balance of $20.00 in his/her student account and does not have adequate money in hand to cover the cost of the meal at the time of service, an alternative meal of the District’s choice will be provided at no cost to the student. After three no-cost alternative meals, all alternative meals will be charged against the student’s account.

School District
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
  • School meal/lunch coordinator sends notices to place in teachers’ mailboxes for students.
  • School meal/lunch coordinator sends letters home from the Food Service Department.
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 meal status is treated as a confidential matter and should not be a consideration for families considering applying for assistance. School administrators should consider if circumstances in the home warrant contacting social workers or Child Protective Services.

This policy for unpaid meal charges is designed to ensure that all students, who want to eat a school meal, receive a meal without impediment(s). This policy should be reviewed with all school-level staff, including school nurses, school counselors, principals, assistant principals and other administrators.
Revised: September 3, 2019