Meal Charge Regulation and Protocol

The district retains the services of Nutrikids (www.myschoolbucks.com), which is a third party prepayment and information service that is free to parents and students. It also has an “APP” available for both Apple and Android phones. Through this service, parents and students may deposit funds using a credit card or electronic check, they can see their School Meals account balances and purchase history. There are also settings for parents to be emailed low balance alerts, and to set up the account to auto replenish when it hits a certain low balance amount set by the parent. Families are strongly encouraged to use this service to track school meals money.

EAST ROCHESTER SCHOOLS
School Nutrition Program – Meal Charge Procedure
Approved June 19, 2018

Purpose
 
The goal of the School Nutrition Program is to provide student access to nutritious no- or low¬ cost meals each school day, and to ensure that a student whose parent/guardian has unpaid meal charges is not shamed or treated differently than a student whose parent/guardian does not have unpaid meal charges.
 
Unpaid charges place a large financial burden on our school district. The purpose of this procedure is to insure compliance with federal requirements for the USDA Child Nutrition Program, and to provide oversight and accountability for the collection of outstanding student meal balances, ensuring that the student is not stigmatized, distressed, or embarrassed.
The intent of this procedure is to establish practices to address unpaid meal charges throughout the School Nutrition Program. The provisions of this procedure pertain to regular priced school breakfast and lunch meals only. The School Nutrition Program provides this procedure as a courtesy to those students in the event that they forget or lose their lunch money. Charging of items outside of the reimbursable meals (a la carte items, adult meals, etc.) is expressly prohibited.

Access to Meals/Charging Meals

  • Free Meal Benefit- Free eligible students will be allowed to receive a free breakfast and lunch each day.   A la carte purchases must be paid/prepaid. To apply for free/reduced meals visit www.erschools.org,  using the using the “School Nutrition Program” Link.
  • Reduced Meal Benefit - Reduced eligible students will be allowed to receive a breakfast for $0.25 and lunch for $0.25 each day. If payment is not available, the charge meals offered to students will be reimbursable meals that are available to all students. To apply for free/reduced meals visit www.erschools.org, using the “School Nutrition Program” Link.
  • Full Pay Students-Students will pay for meals at the school's published paid meal rate each day. If payment is not available the charge meals offered to students will be reimbursable meals that are available to all students.  If financial hardship exists, parents and families will be encouraged to apply for free or reduced price lunches for their child if applicable (www.erschools.org, using the “School Nutrition Program” Link.)

Payments

  • Parents/Guardians are responsible for meal payment to the food service program. Discrete notices of low or deficit balances will be sent to parents/guardians weekly during the school year.
  • Students/Parents/Guardians may pay for meals in advance via www.myschoolbucks.com or with a check payable to East Rochester School Nutrition. Further details are available on our webpage at www.erschools.org.  Funds should be maintained in accounts to minimize the possibility that a child may be without meal money on any given day. Any remaining funds for a particular student may/will be carried over to the next school year.
  • Refunds for withdrawn, and graduating students are available with a written or e-mailed request for a refund of any money remaining in their account. Students who are graduating at the end of the year will be given the option to transfer to a sibling's account with a written request.
  • Unclaimed Funds must be requested within three (3) months after leaving the district and/or after the child has graduated. Unclaimed funds will then become the property of the School Nutrition Food Program.
  • Balances Owed will follow the policies and procedures set by the school, and will be collected prior to the start of the next school year.

Parent Outreach

a) Staff will communicate with parents/guardians with three (3) or more unpaid meal charges to determine eligibility for free or reduced price meals. 

b) Staff will make two documented attempts to reach out to parents/guardians to complete a meal application in addition to the application and instructions provided in the school enrollment packet.
c) Staff will contact the parent/guardian to offer assistance with completion of meal application to determine if there are other issues within the household causing the student to have insufficient funds, offering any other assistance that is appropriate

Ongoing Staff Training

a) Staff will be trained annually and throughout the year as needed on the procedures for managing meal charges using the State Education Department (SED) Webinar or the District's training program. 

b) Staff training will include ongoing eligibility certification for free or reduced price meals.

Minimizing Student Distress

a) Staff will not publicly identify or stigmatize any student in line for a meal or discuss any outstanding meal debt in the presence of any other students.

b) Students with unpaid meal charges will not be required to wear a wristband or handstamp, or to do chores or other work to pay for meals.

c) Staff will not throw away a meal after it has been served because of the student's inability to pay for the meal or because of previous unpaid meal charges.

d) Staff will not take any action directed at a student to collect unpaid meal charges

e) Staff will deal directly with parents/guardians regarding unpaid meal charges.


Ongoing Eligibility Certification

a) Staff will conduct direct certification through the New York Student Identification System (NYSSIS) or using SED Roster Upload at least monthly to maximize free eligibility.

b) Staff will provide parents/guardians with free and reduced price application and instructions at the beginning of each school year in the school enrollment packet.

c) If the District uses an electronic meal application, it will provide an explanation of the process in the school enrollment packet and instructions on how to request a paper application at no cost.

d) The District will provide at least two additional free and reduced price applications throughout the school year to families identified as owing meal charges.

e) The District will use its administrative prerogative to complete an application on a student's behalf judiciously, and only after using exhaustive efforts to obtain a completed application from the student's parent/guardian. The District will complete the application using only available information on family size and income that falls within approvable guidelines.

f) The District will coordinate with the foster, homeless, migrant, and runaway coordinators at least monthly to certify eligible students.