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Meal Charge Procedure

Meal Charge Procedure

Student Meal Accounts/Charges
Guardians/Parents are responsible for submission of a free/reduced meal application in a timely manner (if appropriate) and to maintain funding in their student’s account at all times as necessary. Meal applications are accepted all year. Until the free/reduced meal application is approved, the parent is responsible for meal charges. Free/Reduced Meal Benefits expire 30 days into the following school year.

Parents are encouraged to pre-pay for student meals. Funds may be added to the student lunch account using either check or cash at the school. Credit card payments are accepted online, through the Parent Portal account. Students may also pay for meals and/or add funds to accounts on the day of service. If a student has money to purchase a meal at the time of the meal service, the student must be provided a meal. The student’s money may not be used to repay previously unpaid charges if the student intended to use the money to purchase that day’s meal.

Meal Charges
Students who do not have any money in their account or in hand to cover the cost of a meal at the time of service, will be permitted to charge a reimbursable meal. Students will not be permitted to charge ala carte or extra items, such as an additional milk.

Students may charge up to $30 per school year before they will no longer be permitted to charge meals. Students at the meal charge maximum must be provided a nutritious meal from home.  If a student is at the maximum charge allowed and does not have a meal provided from home, he/she will be permitted to eat hot lunch one time only. Nutrition Services will then inform the school secretary, at which time the school secretary will schedule a meeting of explanation between the parent and principal. It is the discretion of each school principal whether the maximum charge amount will be waived or not.

All adult meals, including employees of MCSD RE-1J, are required to be pre-paid or paid in full at the time of purchase.

Notification of Negative Balances
Parents are encouraged to look on Parent Portal to check their student(s) account balance often. Parents may also call Nutrition Services at 970-252-7918 to inquire of their student balance.

Nutrition Services will provide parents with notification of a negative balance on a student meal account via email, automated phone call, or text message once a week. In addition, school secretaries will send home negative balance letters with elementary students at least two times per month. Nutrition Services will mail negative balance letters to the parents of middle/high school students monthly.

Nutrition Services will inform Kitchen Managers and Principals of a student’s negative account balance once it exceeds $15.00. Nutrition Services staff, Principals, and District Administrators may contact parents regarding negative account balances at any time. Nutrition Services staff will not discuss negative balances with students.

Collection of Meal Charge Debt
In collecting debt, the district shall ensure that collection efforts do not have a negative impact on the students involved and instead focus on the adult(s) in the household responsible for providing funds for student meal purchases. The district will work with parents to establish repayment plans with payment levels and due dates appropriate to the household’s particular circumstances.

For students with meal charges, the following process will be used to collect debt:

  • Letter sent to parent by school secretary (elementary) or nutrition office (secondary)
  • Phone call made to parent by school staff, nutrition staff, then administration.
  • If the parent refuses to pay, their charges will become a delinquent debt

Delinquent Debt
As defined by the USDA, delinquent debt includes overdue balances with active, reasonable efforts being made to collect the outstanding amount due. Delinquent debts that have been determined to be uncollectible will be reclassified as “bad debt”. Montrose County School District Re-1J also classifies student accounts as “bad debt” when collection efforts have been unsuccessful as of the last day of May or the last day a student attends their current school. “Bad debts” must be paid annually at the end of the fiscal year (June 30) using the school discretionary budget.

Unused Credit Balances/Donations
Regardless of their source, monies received through Nutrition Services as donations to pay off negative meal balances will be deposited into a District account set up specifically for meal account donations. Donations will be distributed to meal accounts throughout year at the discretion of the Nutrition Services Office Staff.

Parents of students with unused credit in their accounts at the point of disenrollment or graduation may request a refund of the credit. Parents may also request a transfer of existing balances to the account of a sibling by contacting Nutrition Services at 970-252-7918.Credits remaining after twelve (12) months of disenrollment will become the property Nutrition Services and be transferred into the  donation account.

Annual Notice
The district shall notify parents about this policy at the beginning of each school year. Notification shall also be provided to those students who transfer into the district during the school year. Information about this policy will also be posted on the district website.

This policy will also be communicated to school and district-level staff responsible for this policy’s enforcement, such as school food service staff responsible for collecting payment for meals at the point of service, staff involved in notifying families negative balances, and staff involved in enforcing any other aspects of this policy.
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