Student Charge Policy
Franklin Discovery Academy - Vineyard
Meal Service and Charges Policy
A. Purpose and Background
(1) Franklin Discovery Academy-Vineyard participates in the following federal meal programs: National School Lunch, Breakfast, After School Snack, and may add or remove other federal meal programs per approval from the school’s Governing Board. Pricing policies for school meals are determined at the local level, including decisions about whether to extend credit to parents who do not have meal money in their students’ accounts or whether to provide alternate meals to such students.
(2) Schools receive partial reimbursement for meals served to students who do not qualify for free meals. Parents must make payments to a student’s account to make up the difference between the federal reimbursement and the cost of the meal. This policy applies only to one full school meal, not a la carte or second meal sales.
(3) If students qualify for free or reduced-price school lunch, their meals are reimbursed in whole or in part with federal funds. Otherwise, the meal reimbursement is minimal, and parents are expected to pay for their student(s’) meals. Schools should adopt policies which minimize unpaid accounts and ensure students are not subject to punishment or stigmatization when parents fail to make school meal payments.
(4) The purpose of this policy is to
(a) explain how Franklin Discovery Academy-Vineyard will notify parents/guardians about: money owed for student meals; of the school’s procedures for providing meals if students’ accounts are delinquent;
(b) to assure and remind parents and school employees that students will never be confronted or embarrassed about money owed for school meals.
(b) clarify meal service procedure requirements and options for parents and food service staff
This policy applies to all Franklin Discovery Academy schools that participate in the National School Lunch, Breakfast, Special (Kindergarten) Milk and After School Snack Programs. The policy is informative for parents whose students participate in the National School Lunch Program. The scope includes requirements and direction for delinquent meal accounts and meal service.
(1) “Alternate Meal” means a meal served to students that is different than the meals served to other students because the student does not have adequate funds in the student’s lunch account. The alternate meal, such as a sandwich and milk, allows the student to have something to eat while limiting the cost to the school lunch program. If the alternate meal does not meet the USDA requirements it may not be claimed for reimbursement. The cost to provide this meal is not an allowable cost to the food program and must be paid for from non-federal funds.
(2) “Automated Meal Payment System” means a web-based system which allows parents to deposit funds in students’ meal accounts, informs parents of account balances and student meal payments and sends messages to the parent when funds in the account are low.
(3) “Collection Efforts” means any means that an LEA uses to collect delinquent lunch balances or contacts to parents by phone, mail, or other efforts to recoup unpaid meal balances. Schools may not withhold student records for unpaid school meal balances.
(4) “Delinquent Account” means a student’s meal fund account that does not have adequate funds to cover the meal charges by student/parent. Schools are responsible for the collection of delinquent accounts.
(5) “Free Meal” means a meal served to a student whose parents have qualified, based on federal standards, for free meals. The free meal receives the highest federal rate of reimbursement. The meal is served at no cost to the student/parent.
(6) “LEA” means a local education agency, including local school boards/public school districts and charter schools.
(7) “Meal Charging” means allowing students who do not have funds in their account to receive a reimbursable meal, with parents or other sources paying for these meals at a later time. Schools are not required by state or federal law to provide meals to students who do not have the funds to pay for the meal.
(8) “Parent” means a student’s parent, legal guardian, or person acting as the parent for school purposes.
(9) “Paid Meal” means a meal served to a student whose parents have not qualified for reduced-price or free meals. This meal receives the lowest amount of federal reimbursement. The parent must pay the lunch price established by the local school board.
(10) “Point of Service” means the place at the end of the line where meal payments and counting of reimbursable meals occurs. Schools must have an adult at the end of the line to assure the meals selected by students meet the requirements and are reimbursable from USDA.
(11) “Reduced-Price Meal” means a meal served to a student whose parents qualify (following income review and documentation) for reduced-price meals. The federal rate of reimbursement for a reduced-price meal is less than for a free meal, but more than for a paid meal. The parent must pay $.40/lunch and $.30/breakfast and snack.
(12) “Reimbursable Meal” means a meal which meets the USDA requirements and may be claimed for payment from USDA.
(13) “Non-program Foods” refers to food items for sale at the school that are not part of the reimbursable meal.
D. Notifications to Households
(1) Before school begins, parents shall receive information from the school:
· about school meals;
· stating the prices for the meals;
· informing parents how they may provide payment for meals;
· informing parents how their students can qualify for reduced-price or free meals;
· informing parents what students will receive if their meal accounts are delinquent; and
· informing parents of the policy for delinquent accounts.
(2) The school will send at least one reminder of the policy throughout the school year. Schools may send letters home, send school newsletter reminders, make announcements, make phone calls or use other reasonable and effective means of communication to contact parents.
(3) The school shall provide applications for free/reduced-price meals to parents. The school shall also provide the school’s designated meal prices. Accompanying the information about the prices of school meals, parents will receive an application for free and reduced-price meals. The application is available in a variety of languages at: http://www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/family-friendly-application-translations . The school will provide paper applications for parents who do not have access to on-line forms.
(4) If a household 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 student’s or family’s eligibility, and does not have to complete or submit a free/reduced-price form. Schools will comply with the State Child Nutrition requirement to check these databases at least three times during the school year and communicate the student(s’) eligibility for free or reduced 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 school.
E. Meal Service and Opt-Out
(1) The school will publish a menu with all available meal options before each month begins. The menu shall only include the reimbursable meal details, with a notice that non-program foods or a la carte items are available for purchase and that they are not part of the reimbursable meal.
(2) Franklin Discovery Academy allows parents the option to opt out of all meal services for the student. Parents will be notified of this option before school begins. Schools shall not stop meal service until a confirmed request in writing has been submitted to the food service department from the parent. Schools may identify these students in a sensitive and confidential manner, including notifying the students’ teacher and other staff.
(3) Partial opt outs (such as serving meals only on some days) are allowable for students who
(a) are enrolled in the Field Trip Engage class. Parents can select a different meal service option that will only apply to field trip days. Sack lunches served during Engage field trips will follow the federal meal pattern and will be charged to each student’s school food service account, or
(b) have non-disability dietary restriction and have notified the school food service staff of this restriction.
(4) Students who have dietary restrictions can request accommodation through the food service program with a Special Diet Request form. Forms will be available on the Franklin Discovery Academy website and upon request at the school. Accommodations will be granted at the discretion of the Franklin Discovery Academy Nutrition Director and medical authorities and in full compliance with the National School Lunch Program guidelines.
(5) Schools will ensure adequate signage so that students can easily identify the components of a reimbursable meal and non-program foods. Prices for meals and extra items will be clearly displayed.
F. Payments and School Verification
(1) The school must verify at each student’s meal service, that the meal is reimbursable or non-reimbursable.
(2) The school will credit meal payments from parents to the student’s account daily.
(3) If a student/family qualifies for free meals, no payments are due.
(4) If a family qualifies for reduced-price meals, the school will charge no more than $.40 for lunch or $.30 for breakfast.
(5) Parent payment options for student meals may include:
(a) Parents may use an automated payment system, if available, to make payments for students’ meals. Parents may make on-line payments, using debit or credit cards, allocating the funds to individual students’ accounts. The school may add additional fees for the use of a credit card and will notify parents of added fees.
(b) Parents may also make payments to the school in person. The school will accept cash or credit card payments. The school can choose to accept payment by check.
(c) Schools may provide payment incentives for parents who pay in advance for meals. Meal prices may be reduced for those who pay for a year, semester or month of meals in advance. The school will provide notice of prices of these options to parents and will ensure accurate record-keeping.
G. Identification of Delinquent Accounts
(1) Schools will identify student accounts that do not have adequate balances to pay for student meals in a systematic and unbiased manner. Schools will identify these accounts biweekly and notify parents of the options for making payments. Schools may ask students to take sealed notifications addressed to the parent home with them; however, the school may not discuss outstanding balances with students or ask students to remind their parents to send money to the school. The school is not required to provide a full meal at no cost if a student does not qualify for a free meal.
(2) If the school does not have payment the parent and student will be contacted in advance of the meal service to communicate the action that will be taken. The school will take such actions as discretely and sensitively as possible so as not to embarrass the student.
(3) The school may use any of the following options (or other reasonable options) for student meals if a student’s meal account is inadequate:
(a) Schools may continue to provide full meals to students and notify parents that the school will use collection efforts to pay for meals. Schools shall maintain documentation of parent notices.
(b) Schools may notify parents that the school will offer elementary students whose accounts are delinquent an “alternate meal.” Schools shall give parents at least a 24 hour notice before giving students alternate meals. The school shall maintain documentation of parent notice.
(4) Accounts will be considered delinquent when they have reached a balance of - $25.
H. Delinquent Balances and School Procedures
(1) Schools will notify parents of students with delinquent balances in their school lunch accounts by such methods as: (a) the automated school lunch payment system; (b) e-mail or phone text to the parent; (c) written notice sent to the parent by mail or carried home by the student in a sealed envelope; (d) telephone conversation with the parent.
(2) If parents have been notified, no payment is received, and the amount owed exceeds $300, the account may be turned over to a collection agency (no federal funds may be used for the collection of funds). Schools will notify parents at least twice annually concerning their procedures for the collection of past-due accounts.
(3) The school may complete an application for free/reduced-price meals on behalf of the parents, if school personnel have knowledge of the parent’s financial circumstances and parents give permission. The school will notify parents that an application has been completed on their behalf (“Eligibility Manual for School Meals,” August, 2013, pg. 36).
(4) If a student repeatedly has no money in his or her food service account and no meals are provided from home, school officials will consider the circumstances in the home (e.g., potential abuse or neglect, homelessness, etc.) and may contact the LEA’s social worker and/or Child Protective Services.
(5) Schools may use collection agencies to collect on delinquent accounts. They may also set aside or raise funds which may be used for payment of delinquent accounts. Parent organizations may hold fundraisers and individuals may donate funds to be used for such accounts. Schools will determine and notify all parents of the school’s standards for paying for students’ lunches with school discretionary funds and/or using collection agencies.