Board Policies

This Policy is under review.

41) 710.4G1 - Nutrition Services Meal Charging Guideline

Last Updated Date:

Adoption Date: 06/22/2021

Revision History: 05/24/2022 (reviewed)

In accordance with state and federal law, the Iowa City Community School District adopts the following policy to ensure school district employees, families, and students have a shared understanding of expectations regarding meal charges. The policy seeks to allow students to receive the nutrition they need to stay focused during the school day, prevent the overt identification of students with insufficient funds to pay for school meals, and maintain the financial integrity of the nonprofit school nutrition program.

Elementary Meal Charging Policy

Elementary students who have a negative account balance will be served a meal but cannot buy extra milk.

Elementary Negative Meal Account Policy

  1. Weekly negative balance slips are emailed to elementary Lead Nutrition Services Assistants. Leads print these slips and work with school staff to send them home with students.
  2. Leads review the weekly negative balance slips, then work with both school staff and the student’s family to identify why the accounts are negative and if a free and reduced meal application is needed.
  3. When a student reaches a balance of -$10.00, Leads will call families to inform them of the balance, the availability of Free and Reduced Meal applications, methods of payment, and the possibility of setting up payment plans.
  4. Monthly invoices will be mailed to reduced and full price families with balances exceeding -$50.00 in an effort to keep them informed of their debt and notify them of the expectation that all balances be paid. Quarterly invoices are mailed home for free families with balances exceeding -$50.00.
  5. A list of students with negative balances is shared with building secretaries and Student and Family Advocates on a weekly basis. These staff work with families to identify whether a meal application should be submitted. School principals receive this list on a monthly basis. Principals may work with Student and Family Advocates to assist families and try to help them avoid future negative balances.
  6. Families can set up online accounts, where they can see all student 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 whatever designated level they choose.
  7. Payment Options:
    1. Online payments may be made at www.myschoolbucks.com. We currently accept Visa, MasterCard, and Discover, as well as e-checks. There is no fee for users.
    2. Debit or credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, and Discover) are also accepted in the school’s office.
    3. Checks may be sent in to the school. Checks should be made out to the school’s Nutrition Service. The student’s name should be clearly written in the memo section of the check.
    4. Cash may be sent in to school. Cash should be in a sealed envelope, with the student’s name clearly written on it. Cash is not the preferred method.
    5. All payments will be applied toward a student’s negative balance before it is applied toward future meals.

Secondary (Grades 7-12) Meal Charging Policy

Students are never allowed to purchase a la carte items, such as milk, without money either in their accounts or in hand at the time of purchase, regardless of their meal status.

Once FULL PRICE or REDUCED PRICED STUDENTS reach a negative balance totaling no more than the cost of three meals, they will not be allowed to charge any further meals. They will be offered a cheese sandwich meal at no
charge. The cheese sandwich meal is not recognizable as an alternative meal as it contains all the same components as a regular meal. For example, the cheese sandwich itself is available daily as a vegetarian option for all students. Students with a negative account may pay for their meal with cash at the time of purchase but no change will be given, and any additional money above the cost of the meal will be applied toward the negative balance.

  1. Staff begin notifying students of their balances when the account balance is approximately $10.00. They are discreetly informed that they will receive a cheese sandwich meal once the account goes negative.
  2. If a student reaches the negative three meal threshold and tries to purchase an additional meal, the cashier informs the kitchen manager. Kitchen managers review accounts on an individual basis and call the parents to inform them of the balance and work with each student and family to resolve issues.
  3. In the event of a food allergy, special diet accommodations will be made, regardless of account balance.
  4. If a student has received the alternate meal for one week, the Nutrition Services Office will work with school staff to determine whether a Free and Reduced Meal Application is needed. If so, Nutrition Services and school staff will work with the family to submit an application or explore other options.

FREE STUDENTS will always be able to receive all meal choices, regardless of their account balance but cannot purchase a la carte options without money in their account or cash in hand.

SECONDARY NEGATIVE MEAL ACCOUNT POLICY

  1. Monthly negative balance slips are emailed to the kitchen managers. Kitchen managers print these slips and work with school staff to send them home with students.
  2. Monthly invoices will be mailed to reduced and full price families with balances exceeding -$50.00 in an effort to keep them informed of their debt and notify them of the expectation that all balances be paid. Quarterly invoices are mailed home for free families with balances exceeding -$50.00.
  3. A list of students with negative balances is shared with building secretaries and Student and Family Advocates on a weekly basis. These staff work with families to identify whether a meal application should be submitted. School Principals receive this list on a monthly basis. Principals may work with Student and Family Advocates to assist families and try to help them avoid future negative balances.
  4. Families can set up online accounts, where they can see all student 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 whatever designated level they choose.
  5. Payment Options:
    1. Online payments may be made at www.myschoolbucks.com. We currently accept Visa, MasterCard, and Discover, as well as e-checks. There is no fee for users.
    2. Debit or credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, and Discover) are also accepted in the school’s office.
    3. Checks may be sent in to the school. Checks should be made out to the school’s Nutrition Service. The student’s name should be clearly written in the memo section of the check.
    4. Cash may be sent in to school. Cash should be in a sealed envelope, with the student’s name clearly written on it. Cash is not the preferred method.
    5. All payments will be applied toward a student’s negative balance before it is applied toward future meals.

School District Staff Meal Charging Policy

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 purchase.

All Grade Levels and Staff

  1. Account balances are cumulative and will continue to carry over from year to year.
  2. Spending limits and restrictions for accounts can be set up by contacting the Nutrition Office Student Account Secretary at 688-1021.

Donation Policy

Donations are applied to student accounts in accordance with the donor’s wishes, to the best of
Nutrition Services’ ability. If the donor does not supply specifications on how to use the funds, Nutrition Services will apply the donation first to free student negative debt, then reduced, then paid, clearing the debt for as many accounts as possible with the funds provided.

Communication of the Policy

The policy and supporting information regarding meal charges shall be provided in writing to:

  1. All households at or before the start of each school year;
  2. Students and families who transfer into the district, at time of transfer; an
  3. All staff responsible for enforcing any aspect of the policy.

Records of how and when the policy and supporting information was communicated to households and staff will be retained.

Policy References: