Meal Charge Policy

MEAL CHARGE POLICY

The School Committee is committed to providing students with healthy, nutritious meals each day so they can focus on schoolwork, while also maintaining the financial integrity of meal programs and minimizing any impact on students with meal charges. However, unpaid meal charges place a large financial burden on the school district, as food services are a self-supporting entity within the district. The
purpose of this policy is to ensure compliance with federal reporting requirements of the USDA Child Nutrition Program, as well as provide oversight and accountability for the collection of outstanding student meal balances.

The provisions of this policy pertain to regular priced school meals only. The School Committee will provide a regular meal to students who forget, lose their lunch money, or have a negative balance. However it will be charged to the students’ account.

Meal Charges and Balances

Students will pay for meals at the regular rate approved by the School Committee and for their meal status (regular, reduced-price, or free) each day at time of service. Payment options will be delineated in student handbooks and provided to parents of incoming students. After the balance reaches zero and/or enters the negative, students will not be allowed to purchase a la carte items including but not limited to a second meal, snack, ice cream, or an additional beverage. The student will still be allowed to take a meal, and that meal will continue to be charged to the account at the standard lunch rate based on their meal status. The parent/guardian is responsible for any meal charges incurred. If there is a financial hardship, a parent/guardian should contact food services directly to discuss payment options such as an individualized repayment plan.

Payments

Parents/Guardians are responsible for all meal payments to the food service program. Notices of low or deficit balances will be sent directly to parent/guardians via weekly emails or regular postal mail at regular intervals during the school year. At no time shall any staff member give payment notices to students unless that student is known to be an emancipated minor who is fully responsible for themselves or over the age of 18. Parents/guardians are responsible to discuss personal meal purchase parameters at home. If parents/guardians have questions with student purchases they should contact food service department at 978-352-5777 ext.106 or brousseaut@georgetown.k12.ma.us

Parents/Guardians may pay for meals in advance. It is FREE to monitor your student’s purchases online. To get started, go to MySchoolBucks.com to create a parent account. Then search for your students and add them to your account. You can view the past 90 days of their purchases and payments from home or on the go using the free mobile app. If you need help setting up your account, call the Food Service Department for support. My School Bucks charges a nominal fee to upload funds via debit/credit card. Parents/guardians can also pay by personal check at no cost, by presenting it to the school food service staff. Funds should be maintained in accounts to minimize the possibility that a child may be without meal money on any given day. Parents/guardians are encouraged to set up a low balance alert on My School Bucks. Any remaining funds for a particular student, whether positive or negative, will be carried over to the next school year.

All school cafeterias possess computerized point of sale/cash register systems that maintain records of all monies received and spent for each student and those records are available to parents by setting up an online account through myschoolbucks.com or by speaking with the food service department. The point of sale system is designed to prevent direct identification of a student’s meal status. Parents will receive low-balance alerts either through My School Bucks(parents can set amount) or through the food service department when there is a negative balance. If notices do not result in payment, parents will receive a phone call from the Food Service Director’s Office. If the phone call does not result in payment, the Food Service Director shall turn the account over to the Business Office for collection. Persistently delinquent accounts will be referred to the Superintendent and/or a collection agency.

Refunds

Refunds for withdrawn and/or graduating students require a written request (email, postal, or in person) for a refund of any money remaining in their account to be submitted. Parents of graduating students also have the option to transfer funds to a sibling’s account or to donate to a student in need with a written request.

Delinquent Accounts/Collections

Failure of a parent or guardian to maintain current accounts may result in the referral to the Superintendent for his/her review and action. The Superintendent shall ensure that there are appropriate and effective collection procedures and internal controls within the school district’s business office that meet the requirements of law. Persistently delinquent accounts will be referred to a collection agency.

If a student is without meal money on a consistent basis, the administration may investigate the situation more closely and take further action as needed. If financial hardship exists, parents and families are encouraged to apply for free or reduced price lunches for their child and or contact the Business Office for assistance. Each school handbook shall contain detailed instructions for parental assistance.

Balances Owed with No Response by Parents/Guardian
If the payment is not received, the Superintendent or his/her designee may take one of more of the following actions, unless or until prohibited by state law or regulation:

1) Prohibit participation of student or other students in the student’s household from participating in any future fee based program until or unless outstanding balances are resolved.
2) Denial of participation in extra-curricular activities.
3) Prohibit student participation in senior week activities or graduation exercises.
4) Referral to small claims court and/or District Attorney’s Office.
5) Any of the above actions may be appealed to the Superintendent of Schools.

Checks Returned for Non-Sufficient Funds (NSF)
When a check is returned to the Treasurer’s Office for “NSF”, a letter will be sent to inform the parent(s) from the Food Service Director. Payment for the NSF check must be in the form of a cashier’s check or money order. Payment must be received within ten (10) days of the date of the letter. Any penalty fee will be made payable to the Town of Georgetown and sent to the Food Service Office. Second requests will follow M.G.L. Chapter 93, s40A. Once the Town has received a NSF check from the bank, the parent will no longer be allowed to pay by personal check, only a cashier’s or money order will be accepted.
Adult Purchases
With exception of staff contractually entitled to daily meals, Staff and Faculty are expected to pay for all meals received from the school food service department. Staff and faculty may also purchase any of our individually priced items using funds on their accounts or cash at the point of sale. Staff will not be allowed to charge any food items that will cause their account to go into deficit balance.

Policy Communications

This policy shall be communicated to all staff and families at the beginning of each school year and to families transferring to the district during the year. Information can be found on the food service department tab on the district website and/or parent student handbooks on each school’s website.

File: EFCA

Adopted on: January 22, 2015
Revised on: August 25, 2016
Second Revision: January 10, 2019