MEAL CHARGE POLICY
SHREWSBURY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
LOCAL MEAL CHARGE ADMINISTRATIVE POLICY
Effective July 2017
It is the philosophy of the district to provide nutritious meals to all students who wish to purchase a meal or are eligible for a free or reduced price meal per the regulations of the National School Lunch Program. Parents are responsible for either providing their children with meals, applying for free or reduced price meals when appropriate, or providing adequate funds for their child to purchase a meal. But under no circumstance will a student be denied a breakfast [when offered] or a lunch meal due to a lack of money or a negative food account balance. A child will not be denied a school meal because of parental negligence as we know this unfairly punishes children and impedes their ability to learn.
Regulations and Guidelines
This policy is informed by regulations and guidelines published by the United States Department of Agriculture under the National School Lunch Program, Massachusetts General Law, and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Office for Food and Nutrition Programs.
- Policy on Communicating Student Food Account Balances
Parents are responsible for knowing the amount of their child’s food account balance.
Parents may view their child’s food service account balance at anytime by looking in PowerSchool using their Parent Portal Access. Parents of students who have a negative account balance will receive an email communicating the negative balance amount until it is rectified. The use of automated telephone calls will also be employed for the collection of delinquent accounts. Parents may set up automatic replenishment of their child’s account through the district’s online payment processor to avoid negative account balances.
- Policy on Charging Meals and a la carte Items
A child will not be denied a school meal because of parental negligence as we know this unfairly punishes children and impedes their ability to learn. Students who have a negative fund balance may charge a la carte items to their account only when those a la carte items are accompanied by a meal. Students who have a negative account balance cannot further their indebtedness by purchasing a la carte items without a meal.
So called “alternative meals” i.e. peanut butter and jelly or cheese sandwiches will not be used as substitutes as this identifies the child as having a delinquent account in front of their peers and will likely not provide any added incentive for the parent to pay.
- Policy on Delinquent Debt Collections
Payment for negative account balances may be made at anytime using the district’s online payment processor. Parents can access this feature via their PowerSchool Parent Portal access account. Students may also rectify their account by paying cash or by check to the cashier at their school. Parents may also rectify negative accounts by making a check payment to the Shrewsbury School Department and mailing it or dropping it off at the Food Service Director’s Office, Shrewsbury High School, 64 Holden Street, Shrewsbury, MA 01545.
When a student account balance goes negative to a sum that exceeds three times the cost of a lunch meal, this will be considered a delinquent account. The Food Service Director, in consultation with the school cafeteria manager, will then begin collection efforts with the respective parent or guardian. The Food Service Director may also share a negative account balance report periodically with school principals because this information may be useful as an additional symptom of a larger problem that the student and their family are experiencing. If attempts by the Food Service Director do not result in payment, then the delinquent account will be sent to the School District Business Office. The Business Office will attempt collection through parent/guardian communications. Collection efforts may result in denial of access to discretionary school programs, pursuit in small claims court, or sale of the debt to a collection agency.
Denial of access to school programs as noted above may include but is not limited to: graduation activities or ceremonies, the Extended School Care Program, Summer Programs, Extra-Curricular/After School Programs, and other, optional, fee-based programs.
USDA Nondiscrimination Statement
In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, religious creed, disability, age, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English. To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at:
http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form.
To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by: (1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights 1400 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; (2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or (3) email.This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
- MGL C. 71, Section 72
- United States Department of Agriculture, National School Lunch Program Regulations
- Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Office for Food and Nutrition Regulations