Policies and Procedures on

    Child Nutrition Program - Meal Charging Policy

    Policy JP

    The purpose of this policy is to comply with the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program. Meal charges under these programs are necessary in order to cover the cost of meals provided to students. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has directed school districts to adopt written policies governing the collection of unpaid meal charges.

    In addition, the success of these programs and the services provided, depends on parents paying the associated charges. The Utah County Academy of Sciences (UCAS) district, endeavors to provide students with food despite the inability of some parents to pay. Parents who are having difficulty with the financial burden of meal charges may apply for free and reduced priced meals as outlined below, and those who qualify may receive assistance. Despite these options, there are meal charges that remain unpaid every year. This policy is adopted to minimize the amount of unpaid meal charges and to establish procedure for collecting them. The policy aims to ensure that employees, students, and parents have a shared understanding of the expectations for payment and collection of mal charges.

    1. Program Information

    Parents may obtain information about the UCAS child nutrition program and apply for free and reduced meal benefits on the UCAS website or by contacting the School Lunch Program Coordinator during regular school hours.

    1.           In conjunction with student registration, each school will provide information to parents regarding:

    The school meal programs offered;

    Prices for student meals, adult meals, and extra milk;

    Payment options for meals;

    Application procedures to qualify for free and reduced price meals; and

    This policy and any other delinquent meal account practices used by the school.

    1.          Schools will send reminders to parents of the payment options and program policy throughout the school year. Schools may use various reasonable and effective means of communication to contact parents, including but not limited to student handbooks, newsletters, announcements, lunch menus, emails, or telephone calls.

    2.     School Meals

    1.           All reimbursable meals shall meet the minimum nutrition standards required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National School Lunch and Breakfast Program and 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act regulations.
    2.          The requirement does not apply to medically authorized special needs diets.

    The UCAS School Lunch Department will comply with the USDA’s disability requirements for modified diets when a student has a documented disability and the state-approved Medical Statement to Request Special Meals, Accommodations, and Milk Substitutions form has been completed. The UCAS School Lunch Department may comply with requests for non-disability medical conditions as they are able. Accommodations for student’s meals will be made on a case-by-case basis upon receipt of a completed request form. If there are special dietary needs for students, parents should coordinate with their student’s Section 504 coordinator when making a request for special meals or accommodations.

    The UCAS School Lunch Department menus are available on the UCAS website.

    The price for a paid meal shall comply with the federal Paid Lunch Equity guidelines and be approved by the UCAS Board of Trustees.

    The price for non-program foods must be sufficient to cover the full cost of the food, labor, equipment and program operations in accordance with federal regulations.

    3.     Free and Reduced Price Meals

    1.           Parents are encouraged to apply online for free and reduced priced meals. Applications are available on the UCAS website, and in a variety of languages on the USDA website. The schools also provide paper applications for parents who do not have access to online forms, they are available in the main office of each school.
    2.          If the student’s family receives benefits from the Special Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Family Employment Program (FEP), or the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), the household qualifies for meals at no charge. Once the school receives notice of the student’s or family’s eligibility based on participation in one of these programs, the family does not have to complete or submit a free and reduced price application. The UCAS School Lunch Department will communicate in writing with the parents that their students are eligible for free meals. If a parent or family qualifies under one of these programs and has not received such a letter before school starts, the parent should contact the UCAS School Lunch Department.
    3.           Families can apply for free and reduced price meals at any time during the school year.
    4.          If a student repeatedly has no money in his or her meal account, and no meals are sent from home for the student, school administrators and the UCAS School Lunch Department staff will consider the circumstances in the home and may complete an application for free and reduced price meals on behalf of the parents if school personnel have knowledge of the family’s financial circumstances. The UCAS School Lunch Department will notify the parents that an application has been completed on their behalf. The UCAS School Lunch Department may also contact the Utah Division of Child and Family Services.
    5.           Employees must maintain the confidentiality of the identities of participants in the free and reduced price program.

    4.     Payment

    1.           It is the parents’ responsibility to ensure that their student has money in his or her meal account.
    2.          Meals can be paid for electronically using UCAS’s automated meal payment system online or at the school or the UCAS School Lunch Department with cash, check, or credit card. Meal payments will be accepted at the school office or by the school lunch personnel. Payments should clearly indicate the account to which the funds should be credited, especially if a parent has multiple children at one school, in which case the payment must indicate which student’s account should be credited and the amount to be credited to that student’s account.
    3.           A school may choose not to accept personal checks from parents who have previously provided a check that was returned from their bank for any reason, including insufficient funds.
    4.          If a student qualifies for free meals, no payments are due for the reimbursable meal. If a student qualifies for reduced-price meals, no payments beyond the reduced price are due for the reimbursable meal. However, in both instances payment will be required for any additional food purchases beyond the reimbursable meal.

    5.     Serving Students with Insufficient or Negative Meal Account Balances       

    1.           A student shall not be denied a full, reimbursable meal based solely on the student’s meal account being delinquent or containing insufficient funds to pay for the meal.
    2.          School staff will exercise sensitivity and confidentiality in serving students with insufficient funds or delinquent meal accounts. Employees should communicate with parents about insufficient funds or delinquent meal accounts and will communicate with students about their account balances discreetly. Employees shall not subject a student to embarrassment or ridicule based on the student’s meal account balance.
    3.           Students shall not be physically segregated nor discriminated against based on meal account balance or eligibility for free or reduced price meals.
    4.          The names or other identifying information of students eligible to receive free or reduced price meals shall not be published or posted in any manner, and there shall be no overt identification of any such students by any means.
    5.           A student shall not be denied a meal as a form of discipline.

    6.     Collection of Delinquent Meal Counts

    1.           It is the responsibility of the parent to check the students lunch account balance. This can be done on the UCAS student information system. Communication about payments for school meals is typically directed to a student’s parents, however students may receive a verbal reminder that parents should send money for their meal accounts, in a discreet manner.
    2.          Sometimes a student’s account balance reaches zero (0). A student will not be denied a meal for insufficient funds until the student balance is a -$20.00 (unless a student is on free/reduced lunch – they will never be denied a meal). Every effort will be made to provide the student with some form of lunch or breakfast foods, even if a student is delinquent on their lunch account. However, a delinquent meal account is a debt owed by the student’s parent that can be collected by UCAS.
    3.           Once the student’s lunch balance reaches -$20.00, the UCAS School Lunch Department will contact the parents.
    4.          The school principal or an assistant principal may send written notice to the parent of a student whose meal account balance shows a debt for $20.00 or more. The notice should notify the parent that the school will begin collection efforts, including employing a collection agency, if the debt is not paid by a specified date.
    5.           At the end of each school year, each principal will transfer student funds left in the student’s lunch account to the following school year.  Once a student graduates from UCAS, if there are funds left in the account, a written request or e-mail can be sent to the principal to have their balance refunded.

    Pending Board Approval 12/18/18