It is the District's goal to provide students with access to nutritious no, or low-cost meal 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 meal charges place a large financial burden on the District. The purpose of this policy is to ensure compliance with federal requirement for the USDA Child Nutrition Program and to provide oversight and accountability for the collection of outstanding student meal balances to ensure that the student is not stigmatized, distressed, or embarrassed.

The intent of this policy is to establish procedures to address unpaid meal charges throughout the District in a way that does not stigmatize, distress, or embarrass students. The provisions of this policy pertain to regular priced reimbursable school breakfast, lunch and snack meals only. Charging of items outside of the reimbursable meals (a la carte items, adult meals, etc.) is expressly prohibited.

Access to Meals

a) Free meal benefit eligible students will be allowed to receive a free breakfast and lunch meal of their choice each day. A la carte items or other similar items must be paid/prepaid.

b) Reduced meal benefit eligible students will be allowed to receive a breakfast of their choice for $.25 and lunch of their choice for $.25 each day. The charge meals offered to students will be reimbursable meals available to all students, unless the student's parent or guardian has specifically provided written permission to the Distrct to withhold a meal. A la carte items or other similar items must be paid/prepaid.

c) Full pay students will pay for meal at the District's published paid meal rate each day. The charge meals offered to students will be reimbursable meals available to all students, unless the student's parent or guardian has specifically provided written permission to the District to withhold a meal. A la carte items or other similar items must be paid/prepaid.

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.

Parent Notification

Parents/guardians will be notified that a student's meal card or account balance is exhausted and has accrued unpaid meal charges within 5 days of the charge and then at least twice weekly until the accrued unpaid meal charges have been paid.

Parent Outreach

a) Staff will communicate with parents/guardian of students with accrued unpaid meal charges of $20.00 for full price, and $10.00 for reduced price students to determine eligibility for free or reduced price meals.

b) Staff will make two documented attempts to reach out to parents/guardian 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.

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

d) 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.

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

Prepaid Accounts

Students/Parent/Guardina may pay for meals with a check payable to Pioneer School Lunch Fund. Further details are available on the District's webpage at www.pioneerschools.org. Funds should be maintained in accounts to minimize the possibility that a student may be without meal money on any given day. Any remaining funds for a particular student will be carried over to the next school year.

To obtain a refund for a withdrawn or graduating student, a written or e-mailed request for a refund of any money remaining in the student's account must be submitted. Students who are graduating at the end of the year will be given the option to transfer any remaining money to a sibling's account through a written request.

Unclaimed funds must be requested within one school year. Unclamied funds will then become the property of the Distrct Food Service Program.

Adoption Date: 6/19/2018

Ongoing Staff Training Procedure

a) Prior to the start of the school year an in-service will be held for all food service staff. All staff will receive written and verbal instruction to prevent meal shaming for students who are charging meals.

b) Cook Managers, Billing Clerk & Food Service Director will hold a management meeting to review and discuss all regulations regarding ongoing eligibility certification prior to the start of the upcoming school year. The Cook Managers & Billing Clerk will receive extensive instruction from the Food Service Director on how to help families fill out the Free & Reduced Lunch Application.

Parent Notification Procedure

  • Alert Solutions is an automated calling system that alerts parents on Wednesday & Friday evenings at 7:00pm on balances exceeding $1.00.
  • Cook Managers will call parents when the amount owed exceeds $20.00 for paid students and $5.00 for reduced students. A call log will be kept by the Cook Managers of parents who have been notified of negative balance. Cook Manager will note status of call.
    • No answer
    • Left a message
    • Contacted the parent, set up payment options, offered assistance with the free & reduced meal application.
  • Billing Clerk will run the District Negative Balance Report weekly. Families identified who's negative balance has exceeded $20.00 for paid students and $5.00 for reduced students will receive invoices for the amount owed, along with a Free & Reduced Meal Application via certified mail.
  • Cook Managers & Food Service Directors telephone & e-mail information will be listed if assistance is needed for filling out the Free & Reduced Meal Application.
  • Cook Managers will continue to call families until the negative balances have been paid.
  • In addition to the Free & Reduced Meal Application in the student's orientation packet, the meal application will be available online, in the principal's office, food service office and the cafeterias.
  • All menus will include the Cook Manager & Food Service Directors contact information to assist parent with any questions or concerns they may have.
  • Families who do not fill out a new Free & Reduced meal application before the thirty day operational renewal period will receive a letter notifying them of the date that the meal benefits will be terminated along with a new Free & Reduced Meal Application.
  • Billing Clerk will identify families who's negative balance have exceed $50.00 or more for paid students and $10.00 for reduced students. A letter will be sent from the Superintendent, along with the Free & Reduced Meal Application, this will be sent via certified meal, return receipt.

Ongoing Eligibility Procedure

a) When the Food Service Department is notified that a new student has enrolled, we will check their eligibility for free meal through the NYS Student Identificiation System.