SCHOOL MEAL CHARGES
It is a parent’s or guardian’s full responsibility to ensure that each student bring a lunch from home or have the necessary funds to purchase a meal at school. A parent or guardian that fails to provide for a nourishing midday meal at school, in either manner, is neglecting the health and welfare of their child. Per Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), part 210.10 (a) (1) General Nutrition Requirements “Schools must provide access to nutritious and well–balanced meals to all the children they serve.” In accordance with this regulation and because we recognize that healthy, nutritious meals are an important component to student readiness and the ability to learn, the Leicester Public Schools will not deny any student access to meals at school; however, they must pay for all meals purchased. By statute, the district’s Food Services department is a self­-supporting fund that shall not have a negative balance at the close of a fiscal year. Unpaid charges place a financial strain on the Food Services department and on the district’s operating budget. To be fair and equitable and to maintain compliance with federal reporting requirements for USDA Child Nutrition Programs, Leicester Public Schools will provide necessary oversight and accountability for meal purchases and collection of outstanding student meal fees.

The Leicester School Committee establishes the following goals:
  • To establish a consistent district policy regarding payment for meals, charge availability and collection methods for unpaid meal balances in the district’s food services program, and to treat students with dignity at all times.
  • To promote the access to and completion of Massachusetts Free and Reduced Price School Meals Household Application or qualifying through the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Health and Human Services; Virtual Gateway.
  • To encourage the parent(s)/guardian(s) to assume the responsibility of payments and to promote student self­responsibility.

METHOD OF PAYMENT
  • The Leicester School District will accept pre­payment of school meals in the form of cash or check at the register or via the school meal online payment center. Cash for a daily meal will also be accepted at the register.

ADMINISTRATION OF POLICY
  • The district administration is responsible for ensuring that school meal accounts are properly managed and accurately reported. The administration closely monitors student school meal accounts with the goal of eliminating negative balances and delinquent accounts.
  • Parent(s)/guardian(s) are urged to make payments via the online payment center. By registering for an account, parent(s)/guardians can choose to receive low balance e­mail alerts, to set up automatic deposits to the student’s account or schedule payments adding funds to student’s account. The district administration will provide at least annual notice of how to access the online payment center. There is a minimal fee for using the online payment center. This fee does not benefit the Leicester School District.

MANAGEMENT SCOPE OF RESPONSIBILITY
  • The Food Services Director and site Cafeteria Managers – Responsible for maintaining records of charges. The USDA federal regulations. A “Courtesy Meal” will, however, be provided to a student and the Food and Nutritional Services Manager is responsible for notifying the Director of Food Services of negative account balances in a timely manner.
  • Parent(s)/Guardian(s): Immediate correspondence and full payment of outstanding or delinquent balance.

STUDENT ACCOUNTS
  • The Leicester Public Schools cannot lend money or give credit to any student to purchase breakfast or lunch if the student does not come to school with a lunch from home or the money needed to purchase a meal at school. A “Courtesy Meal” for $3.00 will consist of a peanut butter & jelly or cheese sandwich, vegetable, fruit, and milk. It is the district policy that no more than three (3) “Courtesy Meals” may be charged to any student account. After three (3) “Courtesy Meals” are charged, students will be required to bring a lunch from home and will no longer eligible to purchase meals at school until the balance owed is paid in full.

Under no circumstances will a student with a negative account balance be allowed to purchase a la carte items until the student’s account is in good standing. “Good standing” for the purchase of a la carte items is defined as an account with a positive balance.

For Students Receiving Free Lunch:
  • The federal school lunch program allows a qualifying student to receive a free school lunch every day. Students are required to take a reimbursable meal.
  • Items sold on an a la carte basis are not part of the USDA program and must be paid for with cash. A la carte items cannot be charged. Students with free school lunch status will not be allowed to have a negative account balance

For Students Receiving Reduced Price Lunch:
  • The federal school lunch program allows a qualifying student to receive a reimbursable meal at the reduced price of $0.40. Students are required to take a reimbursable meal.
  • Items sold on an a la carte basis are not part of the USDA program and must be paid for with cash. A la carte items cannot be charged.
  • Students with reduced price lunch status will be allowed to charge reimbursable meals up to $4.00 before the collection process begins.

For Students receiving Paid Lunch:
  • Prices for school lunch are set by the Leicester School District School Committee in accordance to federal and state regulations. A la carte items cannot be charged but may be purchased with cash. Students with paid lunch status may charge reimbursable meals up to $15.00 before the collection process begins.

Blocks on Accounts
Parent(s)/guardian(s) may contact, in writing, the Food Services Director to place a block on their student’s account to prohibit the purchase of a la carte items or to set dollar cap for daily spending.

Refunds
For any student who has withdrawn, a written request for a refund of any funds remaining in the student’s account must be submitted. For students who are graduating, a refund may be issued with a written request or funds can be transferred to a sibling’s account with a written request. Unclaimed funds upon student graduation or leaving the district will become the property of the Leicester School District, Food Services department after six months.

Year End Account Balances
Any positive balance will remain on account to be used in the following school year. At any time, a balance can be transferred to a sibling’s account or be refunded to the parent(s)/guardian(s) by sending written request to the food services department.
COLLECTION PROCESS
When Unpaid Account Balances exceed $10, the Food Services Director or designee will:
  • Send a letter or e­mail to the parent(s)/guardian(s) requesting immediate payment.
  • If applicable, assist the family in applying for free or reduced-price lunch.
  • Provide School Principals with POS records each week to assist in the collection of balances.

When account deficits exceed $25 and if the parent(s)/guardian(s) have not made any payments in an effort to reduce the negative balance or fails to bring the student’s account in good standing (having a zero or positive balance) within thirty (30) days, administration may:
  • Refer the account to a collection agency.
  • Initiate and file a Small Claims Application.
  • Notify other appropriate state agencies.

If a student’s account balance exceeds ­$50.00, the administration may prohibit participation by the student in any future fee­based program (field trips, user­fee based programs, school based graduations, etc.) until or unless the deficit balance is paid in full.
If a student’s account is not in good standing at the end of the school year, the administration may take one or more of the following actions in addition to those listed above, unless or until prohibited by state law or regulation:
  • Delay the issuance of report cards, transfer cards, and class assignments until or unless the negative or delinquent balance is paid in full.
  • Prohibit the student’s participation or other students in the student’s household from participating in any future fee or charge­based program until or unless the negative or delinquent balance is paid in full.

If a senior’s account is not in good standing as of May 1st, the administration may prohibit the student from participation in senior activities and/or graduation exercises.

Checks Returned for Non­Sufficient Funds (NSF)
When a check is returned to the Leicester Town Treasurer’s Office for Non­Sufficient Funds (NSF) a letter will be mailed from the Food Services Department to inform the issuer. The funds for the NSF check will be deducted from the lunch account in which it had originally been deposited. The money will need to be added to cover the amount withdrawn from the account. Payment for the NSF check must be in the form of cash, cashier’s check, or money order or online payment. The Collection Process will begin should funds not be received.

Legal References:
  • 7 CFR 210, Office of Management and Budget Circular A­87 M.G.L. Chapter 71: Section 72. Sale of lunches
  • M.G.L. Chapter 71: Section 68. Duties of towns to maintain schools; transportation of children; school building committee representation
  • M.G.L. Chapter 71: Section 37K. Business demonstration projects; disposition of proceeds M.G.L. Chapter 44: Section 69. Municipal or district services, fees or charges; insufficient funds checks; penalty
  • M.G.L. Chapter 60: Section 57A. Payment by check not duly paid; penalty
  • M.G.L. Chapter 93: Section 40A. Dishonored checks; demand for payment

Approved: May ­13, 20­15
Revised: October 11, 2016