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710.4 Meal Charges

In accordance with state and federal law, the Tipton 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. 

Payment of Meals

For those students in grades PreK-6, when a balance reaches $0.00 students may charge 1 breakfast and 1 lunch per day.  Ala Carte charges are not allowed.  This includes the purchase of milk or juice individually.

For those students in grades 7-12, meal purchases are to be prepaid before meal service begins.  Deposits can be made online at a designated website,  or money can be brought to any building office, for deposit.  Students who do not have sufficient funds shall not be allowed to charge meals or Ala Carte items until additional money is deposited in the student account.  

Students who qualify for free meals shall never be denied a reimbursable meal, even if they have accrued a negative account balance from previous purchases.  Schools are encouraged to provide a reimbursable meal to students with outstanding meal charge debt.  If an alternate meal is provided, the meal must be the same meal presented in the same manner to any student requesting an alternate meal. 

Employees who have a negative account balance shall not be allowed to charge meals or Ala Carte items.

Negative Account Balances

The school district will make reasonable efforts to notify families when meal account balances are low.  Access to automated reminders will be provided to families to set up a low balance dollar amount alert of their choice.  Additionally, the school district will make reasonable efforts to collect unpaid meal charges classified as delinquent debt.  The school district will coordinate communications with the student’s parent or guardian to resolve the matter of unpaid charges.  Parents or guardians will be notified of outstanding negative account balances on Tuesday each week during the school year via email, phone, or letter mailed home.  Once the negative balance reaches $20.00 families will receive a letter mailed home and a phone call.  Negative balances of more than $50.00 will be turned over to the superintendent or superintendent’s designee for collection.  Options may include: collection agencies, small claims court, or any other legal method permitted by law.

 Communication of the Policy

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

  • All households at or before the start of each school year;

  • Students and families who transfer into the district, at time of transfer; and

  • 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.   

It is the responsibility of the superintendent to develop the administrative regulations for implementing this policy

Legal Reference: 

     42 U.S.C. §§ 1751 et seq.

     7 C.F.R. §§ 210 et seq.

     U.S. Dep’t of Agric., Sp 46-2016, Unpaid Meal Charges: Local Meal Charge Policies (2016).

     U.S. Dep’t of Agric., Sp 47-2016, Unpaid Meal Charges: Clarification on Collection of Delinquent Meal Payments (2016).

     U.S. Dep’t of Agric., Sp 57-2016, Unpaid Meal Charges: Guidance and Q&A (2016).

     Iowa Code 283A.

     281 I.A.C. 58.

Cross Reference: 

     710.1 School Food Program

     710.2 Free or Reduced Cost Meals Eligibility

     710.3 Vending Machine

Approved:  5/14/2018                          Reviewed:   10/12/2020              Revised:  10/12/2020