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P 5550 Meal Charges

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to maintain consistent meal account procedures throughout the District. Unpaid charges place a financial strain on District finances.  The Food Service Department is responsible for maintaining food charge records and for notifying the District’s accounting department of outstanding balances.  To that end, this policy is:

Notice

At the beginning of each school year, a copy of this procedure will be provided to every parent/guardian in the district as required by law.In addition, a copy of the procedure, along with information about free and reduced-price school meals, will be provided to the parents/guardians of all students who enroll after the beginning of the school year.

A copy of this procedure will also be provided to all building administrators, staff responsible for collecting payment for meals at the point of service, staff involved with notifying parents/guardians about account balances, school social workers, nurses, counselors, the district liaison for homeless children and youths, and any other staff who regularly assist students in need.

A copy of this procedure will also be posted on the district’s website.

Scope of Responsibility

Food Service Department

Administration

Parent/Guardian

Administration of the Policy

  1. Student Groups:
    • Students will not be identified, singled out, shamed or punished by the district for the failure of their parents/guardians to pay for or provide meals and the district will not withhold student records in violation of law.
  2. No charges will be allowed for ala carte foods and beverages.
  3. Parents/guardians of students with negative balances will be contacted electronically, by correspondence, by phone call by the District Accounting Office, or by the Food Service Department.The district will invoice parents/guardians for unpaid meal charges during the district’s monthly billing cycle, in addition to providing notification of outstanding balances by other means.
  4. The district will work with parents/guardians to create a payment plan that allows for the payment of accumulated balances over time.
  5. If the student debt reaches $40 or household debt reaches $80 and no arrangements have been agreed upon by the parents/guardian and district then a letter from the school attorney will be drawn up and sent notifying the parties involved that the debt will be turned over to a debt collectors or the Atchison County Small Claims Court for collection.

Interventions

After a student accumulates $ 40 meal charges or household debt reaches $80, the district will encourage the parents/guardians to submit an application for free and reduce-price meals if an application has not been recently submitted, and the student will be referred to a counselor for intervention.  The counselor will:

  1. Meet with the student to assess to the extent possible whether the student or the student’s family is experiencing hardships, barriers or other circumstances with which the counselor could assist.
  2. Make repeated attempts to contact the parents/guardians to notify them of the lunch charges, discuss the situation and any other concerns the counselor may have after meeting with the student, and resolve the situation.
  3. Encourage the parents/guardians to submit the free and reduced-price meal application and inquire about any assistance that might be needed to complete the application.
  4. Provide other resources as applicable.
  5. Administration will meet and work with families to establish repayment plans and make the process of paying back meal charges manageable for families.
  6. A repayment plan will be written outlining the duration of payments and the amount of each payment.In addition the repayment plan will reference the Meal Policy Debt Collection procedure should the Parent/Guardian default on repayments.This written plan will act as a contract and will be signed by both the Parent/Guardian and School Administration.

Debt Collection

Unpaid meal charges will be considered a delinquent debt 90 days after notice that charges are due when no payment or payment plan agreement has been made.  Unpaid charges will be considered delinquent as long as the district determines the debt is collectable and efforts to collect the debt are ongoing.  The district will make reasonable efforts to collect delinquent debt, including turning over unpaid meal charge balances to a collection agency when the superintendent or designee determines such action is in the best interest of the district.  The district’s Nonprofit School Food Service Account (NSFSA) funds may be used to cover the costs of reasonable efforts to collect delinquent debt, including costs associated with using a collection agency.

Bad Debt

When the district determines that collection of delinquent debt is impossible or too costly, the debt will be reclassified as bad debt.  Bad debt is debt that will be written off as an operating cost.  These costs must be restored using nonfederal funds.  NSFSA resources may not be used to cover any costs related to bad debt.  Instead, local funds will be used to cover the costs.


Board Approved Date: July 2017