K-12 Cafeteria Management and School Charge Policy.
In this video Mitch and Milt discuss school charge policy regarding your k-12 cafeteria management program in your school.
Necessary Steps for Developing a Proper School Meal charge Policy
School lunch account issues are appearing daily in the news media. School districts
are concerned that debts incurred by unpaid student accounts are crippling the
sustainability of school food service programs nationwide.
The most publicized concern is upset parents, students, and school administrators over poorly handled and poorly
implemented school meal charge policies.
Because the main goal of school lunch programs has always been to insure students
receive a nutritious, well balanced, reasonably priced lunch. Little to no thought is often
given to the issue of delinquent lunch accounts until they become a problem. Problem
meaning the have reached a level detrimental to the program. At this crisis point
food service directors and FSMC’s are mandated to remedy the problem. Many times
policies are hastily put in place without full understanding of what the proper steps for
initiating and implementing such a policy might be.
The first thing to remember is this must be a Board of Education Approved Policy. The
policy may be drafted by the food service director or the FSMC, but it is a district policy
and therefore must have board approval. It cannot be an FSMC policy because it is directly
tied to the district as the SFA in the NSLP Agreement. Once written, before going
to the board, the policy should be approved by the state educational agency to make
sure it follows FNS Instruction 765-7 to Section 245.8 of the National School Lunch Act.
This is known as the “Handling of Lost, Stolen, or Misused Ticket Instruction.” The term
“Ticket” referring to “any and all forms of exchange used in the schools’ or institutions’
food service collection systems.”
To be compliant with this instruction, the policy must state the following:
It applies to all students whether they are Free, Reduced, or Paid (required to pay full
price for meals) to avoid the overt identification of needy students.
Parents and students will be advised in writing of the schools’
policy regarding missing meal tickets and of the student’s responsibility
for their meal tickets. Such notice will be provided
at the time applications are distributed to households or upon
approval for free and reduced priced meal benefits.
A minimum of three ticket replacements, or special meal arrangements
resulting from three lost or stolen tickets, will be
allowed each student within each school year.
The school will maintain a list of students who have reported
missing original tickets in the current school year and the
number of occurrences for each student. Prior to denying any
meal to any student without a ticket, the list will always be
reviewed to determine if the student has already had three
ticket replacements or special meal arrangements for lost or
stolen tickets within that year.
At least one written warning will be given to the students and
the parent (s) prior to refusal to allow additional meals or
ticket replacements. The written warning will include an explanation
that the student has repeatedly requested replacement
tickets and that each subsequent time the student fails
to have a ticket, he/she will be expected to bring a lunch or
pay full price for lunch.
A meal will always be provided to preprimary and primary (K-
3) students or for any handicapped students who may
be unable to take full responsibility for a meal ticket.
Once drafted and approved by the state education agency
and the board, the two most important aspects of the success
of this policy come into play, communication to parents and
students and employee training. These last two steps should
be repeated on a yearly basis to keep all parties involved up
to date and current with the policy. These steps are the most
overlooked areas and cause the greatest concern to parents
and employees, not to mention embarrassment to the district
and FSMCS’ via bad media coverage and public relations. It
is the district’s responsibility to keep its constituents and employees
informed of its stance on this issue. A copy of the
policy should be sent to every household yearly and it is recommended
that the policy should be posted at the point of
sale in every cafeteria and on school office bulletin boards.
The use of media public service announcements concerning
this policy is also helpful to increase public awareness.
Employees should receive extensive training on how this policy
should be carried out. Staff members are the district’s first
line in dealing with student customers and can keep embarrassment
and concern to a minimum through proper training.
Following this simple guideline schools can lessen parent and
student concern caused by poor communication of policy issues.
These issues could potentially result in bad media coverage
of this potentially volatile area.
written by Milt Miller, President at Milton Miller Consulting