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Board Policies


Adoption Date: 06/22/2021

History: 05/24/22 (reviewed), 4/11/23 (updated), 4/23/24 (updated)

Meal Charging Policy - All Grades

The goal of the Nutrition Department is to provide nutritious meals to children during the school day. Children may receive breakfast and lunch at little or no cost to them if they apply and qualify for free or reduced meals. Students who do not qualify based on these federal standards will be charged for meals at prices set yearly by the Nutrition Department and approved by the school board.  

 Unpaid meal charges represent a difficult and complex issue that can impact both families and the Nutrition Services Department, which must maintain financial viability as a categorically funded department.    

 No student will be denied a reimbursable meal but must have money in their account or cash in hand to purchase additional a la carte items. Communication will be provided to families to alert them when their accounts are negative, and information will be offered for anyone who may benefit from applying for meal benefits.  

Negative Meal Account Notification Procedures

  1.  Once a student meal account is negative, an email will be sent weekly to the family email listed in the district’s student information system.  In the absence of a valid email address, a paper notification will be sent home with students.  These notifications are confidential and handled discreetly to avoid identification of negative accounts.  
  2. A list of negative accounts by school is sent from the Nutrition Department to leads (cashiers), student family advocates, school secretaries, and managers at each location weekly. These same lists are sent monthly to principals. 
  3. Monthly invoices are emailed to families using the email address listed in the district’s student information system.  In the absence of a valid email address, paper invoices are sent via US mail to any family with a negative balance greater than $50.00.  
  4. Written communication is available in multiple languages and phone calls may be made to make sure families are aware of the debt, answer individual questions and provide education on applying for benefits. 
  5. Nutrition staff work collaboratively with building staff to identify student/family needs and assist in applying for free and reduced benefits, if needed.   

Free and Reduced Meal Benefit Information

  1. Free and reduced meal benefits are available to those families who qualify.  A link to the Iowa Eligibility Application can be found at the district website at this link:  
  2. Federal income guidelines change yearly, and families must reapply yearly.  New applications with updated federal income guidelines are available yearly by mid-July for the following school year. There is a 30-day grace period each school year where benefits from the previous year are applied.  After that, students will return to full priced status in the absence of a new application.  
  3. All school districts in Iowa are required by law to notify parents or guardians of the availability of applications for free and reduced-price meals twice during the school year. 
  4. Meal eligibility status is determined for the purpose of providing meal service to students. Access to this information is limited and as data of the USDA Child Nutrition program, is subject to disclosure restrictions imposed by section 9(b)(6) of the National School Lunch Act, not other federal programs including FERPA. If a person has legitimate access for a particular reason, that access cannot be used to provide the information for a different purpose.  
  5. As a part of registration, families complete a permission waiver that indicates whether they give consent or not for their status to be shared with school personnel who need that information. 

Communication with Students

  1. A student’s meal eligibility status (free, reduced, or full price) is rarely shared with the student.  Exceptions would include if an older student asked for this information. 
  2. Elementary cashiers don’t share account balance information with students, unless asked.  If a student has home lunch but wants to purchase milk with no money in their account, they will offer a water cup instead and send a negative account reminder home with the student. Free and reduced students can “make a meal” which is cheaper than paying for a carton of milk by choosing 3 components with one being a fruit or vegetable along with the milk. 
  3. Secondary cashiers notify students of their balance with each transaction beginning when they have a positive $10 balance in their account. When they reach a negative $10, the student will still receive and be charged for a reimbursable meal, but students and families are directly notified to problem solve (apply for benefits, add money) and find resolutions.  
  4. All students will receive a meal regardless of balance, but secondary students will have additional a la carte purchases denied in the absence of funds.  Nutrition staff may also have to remove items from trays (PK-12) if a  student has taken an item that isn’t allowed due to allergy restrictions, information from a diet modification form or if parents/guardians have placed account limits on the student’s account.

Meal Account Payments

  1. Families can set up online accounts, where they can see all student meal transactions and make payments to the account at no charge.  They can also set up email notifications to alert them when their student’s balance falls below their designated level. 
  2. Meal Payment Options: 
    1. Online payments may be made at  There is no fee for users.  
    2. Checks may be sent to school with a student.  They should be made out to “Nutrition Services”. Please write the student(s) name in the memo line. 
    3. Not preferred, but cash may be sent to school in a sealed envelope with the student’s name clearly listed.   
  3. Payments will be applied toward a student’s negative balance before it is applied towards future meals.  
  4. Account balances are cumulative and will continue to carry over from year to year. 
  5. Spending limits and restrictions for accounts can be set up by contacting the Nutrition Office at 688-1021.  


  1. Donations will be applied to student accounts in accordance with the donor’s wishes unless it conflicts with district policy.  If the donor does not supply specifications on how to use the funds, they will be applied first to free student debt, then reduced, then paid, clearing the debt for as many accounts as possible with the funds provided.  
  2. Senior donations will be applied to senior debt first each year.  If donations exceed debt, then donations will be applied as stated above.  

School District Staff Meal Charging Policy

  1. District staff are never allowed to purchase meals or a la carte items without money either in their accounts or in hand at the time of the purchase. 
  2. Staff may set up meal accounts by contacting the Nutrition Services Office at 688-1021. Once they have an account, staff can make payments to their account at no charge.  


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