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Policy 4200 - Meal Charges

The purpose of this policy is to outline how schools handle providing meals to students when payment cannot be collected at the point of service, while maintaining the integrity of the food service program and the dignity of students and households.

Policy Document

I. Policy Statement

The Board of Education is committed to ensuring compliance with the requirements for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Child Nutrition Program, the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program. The Board acknowledges the need for all students, regardless if the student is eligible for Free Meal Benefit, Reduced-Price Meal Benefit, or is a Full Pay Student, to have a healthy meal while treating all students with dignity and confidentiality regarding meal accounts.

In order to ensure that no student goes hungry or is traumatized for lack of funds, the HCPSS establishes processes to provide meals or alternative meals to students who cannot afford to purchase meals and will provide oversight and accountability regarding the collection of outstanding student meal balances. In addition, the HCPSS will work with schools and community partners to provide temporary relief for parents who do not qualify for the free or reduced-price lunch or breakfast program, yet struggle to pay for their student’s meals.

II. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to outline how schools handle providing meals to students when payment cannot be collected at the point of service, while maintaining the integrity of the food service program and the dignity of students and households.

III. Definitions

Within the context of this policy, the following definitions apply:

  1. A La Carte Items – A variety of additional, approved and compliant food items that may be purchased to compliment school meals or meals brought from home. These extra purchases require funds to be available (on meal account or in hand) at the time of purchase.

  2. Alternate Meal – A meal provided to students who do not have money available to pay for their school meal.

  3. Free Meal Benefit – Assistance for students from families with income at or below 130 percent of the poverty level.

  4. Full Pay Students – Students from families with incomes over 185 percent of poverty.

  5. Meal Account – An account that is set up by parents to deposit money in to make payments for their student’s school meals.

  6. Meal Charge – A debt or debit that is applied to a student’s meal account when the account balance reaches a zero balance and/or becomes negative.

  7. Parent – Any one of the following, recognized as the adult(s) legally responsible for the child or vulnerable adult:

    1. Biological Parent – A natural parent whose parental rights have not been terminated.

    2. Adoptive Parent – A parent who has legally adopted the student, and whose parental rights have not been terminated.

    3. Custodian – A person or an agency appointed by the court as the legal custodian of the student and granted parental rights and responsibilities.

    4. Guardian – A person who has been placed by the court in charge of the affairs of the student and granted parental rights and responsibilities.

    5. Caregiver – An adult resident of Howard County who exercises care, custody or control over the student, but who is neither the biological parent nor legal guardian as long as the person satisfies the requirements of the Education Article §7-101(c) (Informal Kinship Care).

    6. Foster Parent – An adult approved to care for a child who has been placed in their home by a state agency or a licensed child placement agency as provided by the Family Law Article, §5-507.

  8. Reduced-Price Meal Benefit – Assistance for students from families with incomes between 130 percent and 185 percent of the poverty level. Students in households participating in WIC may also be eligible for reduced price meal benefit.

IV. Standards

  1. This policy and implementation procedures apply to students in all schools.

  2. All students will be treated with dignity and confidentiality in the serving line regarding meal accounts.

  3. Meals will not be taken away from a student once it is served.

  4. Second meals and a la carte purchases are prepaid or cash only.

  5. Parents will be contacted by Food and Nutrition Services or principal/designee for a student to receive an alternate meal after either:

    1. Three days of non-payment, or

    2. Steps have not been taken to apply for assistance, or

    3. The parent has not made appropriate payment arrangements.

  6. Students who do not have sufficient funds to pay for meals will be allowed total meal charges up to a designated dollar amount, which includes breakfast and lunch.

  7. Regular meals will resume when the charge balance is fully cleared and the meal account has a positive balance.

  8. The school and the Food and Nutrition Services will use all available resources to contact the parent to resolve issues in a timely manner.

  9. Parents will be encouraged to assume the responsibility of meal payments.

  10. Collection of meal charge balances owed at the end of the school year will follow HCPSS’s procedures on student fees, fines and charges.

  11. Meal charges will not be permitted by adults.

V. Responsibilities

  1. The Superintendent/Designee is responsible for complying with this policy.

  2. Parents are responsible for meals purchased by their student(s) in the cafeteria.

  3. School staff will treat all students with dignity and confidentiality regarding meal accounts.

VI. Delegation of Authority

The Superintendent is authorized to develop appropriate procedures to implement this policy.

VII. References

  • Maryland State Department of Education Memorandum SM 48-16 – Unpaid Meal Charges; Local Meal Policies; September 21, 2016.

  • USDA Memorandum SP 47-2016 – Unpaid Meal Charges: Clarification on Collection of Delinquent Meal Payments; July 8, 2016.

  • Section 143 of the Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-296; December 13, 2010) entitled “Review of Local Policies and Meal Charges and Provision of Alternate Meals.”

C. Relevant Data Sources

VIII. History

ADOPTED: July 1, 2017

REVIEWED:

MODIFIED:

REVISED:

EFFECTIVE: July 1, 2017