As a K-12 operator, how do you deal with lunch line students who are overdrawn on their lunch accounts and have no cash to pay for a school meal?

Take our K-12 upaid meal charges poll: check the one response that most closely matches your own district's policy.

 

We give them basic meals like a cheese or a PB&J sandwich so they don't go hungry.
57% (125 votes)
We let them continue to get meals for a while, but then cut them off if the account reaches a pre-set limit.
38% (85 votes)
We let them continue to get meals indefinitely and absorb the cost if there is no payment.
14% (31 votes)
We don't allow them to get meals if they can't pay or are overdrawn because it isn't fair to those who pay and it encourages more of the same behavior.
4% (8 votes)
We don't allow them to get meals on credit because we can't afford to give away food.
3% (6 votes)
Total voters: 221

Discuss this poll 30

Anonymous
on Jun 5, 2013

At our elementary schools, we allow the students to charge, but at the end of the year graes 3-5 we hold report cards until they pay the balance. K-2 we let them charge and hope for the best, most of the time the parents pay. If the don't we usually end up taking the loss. At the middle school and high school, there is no charging. When i work a window i will usually let a kid go for a quarter or so. If they are hungry and have no money, there is always milk, fruit and veggies available. They can help themselves.

Anonymous
on Jun 4, 2013

We are a high school district and do not have a IOU sytem in place. They are high school students and need to learn about being responsible for meal money. When we first open for a new school year, some students immediatly try to start to use an IOU system. When refused up front, the request goes away. Students will borrow from each other to pay for a meal. They will not do it for long as it is a little embarassing with their peers.
I am familiar with students owing money, calls have to be made, parents have to be bothered and bad debts start to pile up. Everyone loses except the customer who got a free lunch.
This might sound a little harsh, but welcome to the real world.

Anonymous
on Jun 3, 2013

Our school charges one fee for each semester, up front. It covers a preset menu w/ an alternative choice, PBJ. The cost is $1 per meal (think about it, chix breast is less than $2 per lb and 4 oz is only $.50... bulk milk is only $.13 for 8 oz. The rest of lunch costs less than the remaining $.37. All students participate (no choice). ...$5.00 per week...
...prepay gives you three months before you can get behind... all labor costs are volunteer except for the FSD who manages the pre prep. 200 students, private school...
PS. Kids learn to eat what is served... or else no cookie for desert!
Call me 585-455-2778

Anonymous
on Jun 3, 2013

Our school charges one fee for each semester, up front. It covers a preset menu w/ an alternative choice, PBJ. The cost is $1 per meal (think about it, chix breast is less than $2 per lb and 4 oz is only $.50... bulk milk is only $.13 for 8 oz. The rest of lunch costs less than the remaining $.37. All students participate (no choice). ...$5.00 per week...
...prepay gives you three months before you can get behind... all labor costs are volunteer except for the FSD who manages the pre prep. 200 students, private school...
PS. Kids learn to eat what is served... or else no cookie for desert!
Call me 585-455-2778

Anonymous
on May 21, 2013

And when will USDA wake up and smell the roses. Kids don't control the money so why should we punish them, yes we would all like to slap mom and dad. Mom and dad make certain they get their meal and often don't worry about their kids. There is NO easy solution (s). Administrators say feed them adn write if off, board says feed the kids but oh no we don't want to have to pay for it, so the wheel continues to go round and round. There is no right or wrong answer (s).

God Bless our kids.

Anonymous
on May 21, 2013

I'm all for students eating, but would you walk into a restaurant and tell them that you wanted your food, but they could put it "on your tab"? As far as the gentleman that stated that all businesses have to absorb loss, you must obviously not be in school food service, because we count pennies. We only sell our lunches for $2.25-$3.00 and when we can't get paid, it could mean a staff member gets cut. We aren't talking about minimum funds here. This is a real problem. In the last school I worked at, parents wouldn't even bother to fill out free/reduced forms because they knew the school policy was to feed the students regardless. They had an annual loss of over $10,000 a year.

Anonymous
on May 20, 2013

Elementary students go to the office and physically borrow money so that they UNDERSTAND what "negative" means and are never refused a regular meal....Middle School gets three meals then a PBJ or Cheese sandwich, side and WHITE milk, HS gets that meal upon being negative.

Anonymous
on May 20, 2013

We allow the students a dollar limit of $14.00 to charge in K - 12. We prefer that the middle and high schools do not allow charging, but the seem to let the students do so. So I set up a dollar amount to cover up 3-5 meals, depending on the age group. We send statements home no less than once a week and at some schools daily.

We feed all the elementary students despite their charges, but don't tell their parents, whom we are pursuing for payment!

Anonymous
on May 17, 2013

I have been in the foodservice industry for over 38 years, all businesses have to absorb a certain amount of bad debt. I also know that a basic meal can be provided for thosr children at a very minimal cost. As in the case of one of the other comments who went againt the system an provided for those children it should be commended. As for the administration who terminated them, I feel their action should be considered more interms of a child abuse action/response!!!!!! The younger children have no control over their parents action and should not suffer for it.

Anonymous
on May 28, 2013

Send the bill to Obama. Why should the "free and reduced" population skate while the "payers" have to go hungry when the parents don't pay for whatever reason.

Anonymous
on May 21, 2013

My understanding is that the parents actually could be turned in to Children's Services because THEY are the ones neglecting or abusing their children in this way by not providing. We are raising a generation of humans who expect someone else to care for them and their children. I am not unsympathetic to those who really need help, but it is time to stop free handouts to those who aren't taking responsibility. It is time we teach parents to actually be what the word implies. You are right, the younger children have no control, but in a sense they do. They will do better putting pressure on their parents to get money sent in than we cafeteria workers. Kids don't want to miss having pizza or whatever else they like for lunch.

Anonymous
on May 17, 2013

I have been in the foodservice industry for over 38 years, all businesses have to absorb a certain amount of bad debt. I also know that a basic meal can be provided for thosr children at a very minimal cost. As in the case of one of the other comments who went againt the system an provided for those children it should be commended. As for the administration who terminated them, I feel their action should be considered more interms of a child abuse action/response!!!!!! The younger children have no control over their parents action and should not suffer for it.

Anonymous
on May 14, 2013

We have a -$10.00 limit. After that they are given a cheese sandwich, side, and milk. No ala carte charging is allowed. We are sending out a school reach call to alert parents if their child has a negative balance. Middle and High students are placed on a fines list and must pay their balances before participating in any spring activities, ex. Prom, and must be paid by Graduation. This has helped and negative balances are rolled over to the next school year. I will also send out personal letters to our elementary parents.

Anonymous
on May 13, 2013

Our students can go up to -$6.00 balance and after that the choice is either PB or Cheese Sandwich with Fruit, Veggie and Milk.

Anonymous
on May 13, 2013

I was in K-12 food service formany years and the most effective way I found to get the money owed was to provide the child with 3 charges to their account the "Salad of the Day" until their account was paid. The students didn't mind eating a salad for a day or two but they really wanted something else and they would let their paretns know they owed money. I foudn giving them the PBJ pr Cheese sandwich wasn't getting them to inform the parents of their account beeing in the red since that is something they get for lunch at home. Our salad of the day was usually a fun salad such as a taco loco, a big bird(w. pnb celery and egg) or a chicken caesar and the ever popular minnie mouse(3 kinds of cheese)

Anonymous
on May 13, 2013

Children should not have to go without meals due to having irresponsible parents. What I would like to see happen is the same thing that occurs if you do not pay your taxes. Post the parents names in the local newspaper and let them feel the brunt of the embarrasment rather than the kids.

Anonymous
on May 13, 2013

We allow them to eat 2 meals then we will give them a grilled cheese sandwich, fruit or Veg and milk until their account is current. We also give low balance and negative balance notices to the homeroom teachers in K-5.

Anonymous
on May 7, 2013

Our new Principal did not allow me to feed the students whom had outstanding balances on their meals. I couldn't watch these children of 5 years old cry not been given a meal. I give them a meal and was terminated for it. All is good, no more crying hungry children. The system needs to change, we are to provide and safe and caring place for children to learn and how can we do this with them focused on their emtpy bellies. I will do it again. I even paid some of the balances just to get these children fed. This new principal has managed to get astundent count of 47 students down to 11 students. Parents pulled their children and enrooled them in other near by schools. Yes she still remains. And eating!

Anonymous
on May 20, 2013

Thank you for standing up for a child.. Your were fired for something you did "right," not for something you did wrong.. It's quite obvious that the principal was more concerned about the bottom line, rather than putting the best interest of a child, first. And, I bet she has never known what it's like to be hungry.

Anonymous
on May 7, 2013

We let all students charge and toward the end of school, have students call parents before they eat to remind them that money is needed. Hard work, but we usually always get all money owed.

Anonymous
on May 7, 2013

k-6 we give a cheese sandwich after the threshold is reached, at 7-12 there are no charges and a cheese sandwich and milk are provided to any hungry student.

Anonymous
on May 7, 2013

K-3 grades are given a meal regardless of balance, Negative accounts are sent to a collection agency.

Anonymous
on May 7, 2013

It depends on the grade level the credit limit.

Anonymous
on May 6, 2013

We are a small elementary school so we make phone calls when they are close to the pre-set limit. If they are past the limit, continue to sign up, we give peanut butter & crackers for a day or two.

Anonymous
on May 6, 2013

Never want to see a child go hungry, no snacks though. Tougher as they get to High school.

Anonymous
on May 6, 2013

Students can charge up to 3 meals. then they get a PB&J lunch.

Anonymous
on May 6, 2013

We let younger students charge but not middle of high school students.

Anonymous
on May 6, 2013

We contact the parents and work with them to get the account in the positive if at all possible and offer to assist in completing Free and Reduced paperwork. If the family does not qualify for state assistance, we work to get donations from staff, school funds, and cafeteria funds to assist the family.

Anonymous
on May 6, 2013

Our school corporation allows three lunch charges for grades k-5. After the third charge, if we have not received payment or have had contact with the parent, we then serve the student a peanut butter sandwich and a carton of milk at the cost of .75.

9-12 grades are allowed to use a courtesy card to charge a meal only - no ala carte items. Once the charge has been paid, the students are allowed to use the courtesy card again.

Anonymous
on May 20, 2013

Where do the high school students obtain the courtesy card?

Please or Register to post comments.

FM’s Editors Want Your Opinion!

Click Here Take Our
Monthly Reader Poll
Have a news item or story idea for the FM’s editors?

Click here to submit
Association Resources

Click here to view
Twitter Facebook Youtube Linkedin RSS Feeds Google Plus

Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×