Meal Charge and Prohibition Against Meal Shaming Policy
The goal of the Cambridge Central School District (CCSD) is to provide student access to nutritious meals each school day and to ensure that a pupil whose parent/guardian has unpaid school meal fees is not shamed or treated differently than a pupil whose parent/guardian does not have unpaid meal fees.
Unpaid charges place a large financial burden on our school. The purpose of this policy is to insure compliance with federal requirements for the USDA Child Nutrition Program, and to provide oversight and accountability for the collection of outstanding student meal balances to ensure that the student is not stigmatized, distressed or embarrassed.
This policy establishes procedures to address unpaid meal charges throughout the CCSD in a way that does not stigmatize, distress or embarrass students. The provisions of this policy pertain to regular priced reimbursable school breakfast and lunch only. The CCSD provides this policy as a courtesy to those students in the event that they forget or lose their money. Charging of items outside of the reimbursable meals (a la carte items i.e.: snacks, beverages, ice cream, second entrees, adult meals, etc.) is strictly prohibited.
Access to Meals
1. Free Meal Benefit: Free eligible students will be allowed to receive a free breakfast and lunch meal of their choice each day. All a la carte items and second entrees must be paid/prepaid.
2. Reduced Meal Benefit: Reduced eligible students will be allowed to receive a breakfast of their choice for $.25 and lunch of their choice for $.25 each day. The charged meals offered to students will be all reimbursable meals available to any student, unless the student’s parent or guardian has specifically provided written permission to the cafeteria to withhold a meal. All a la carte items and second entrees must be paid/prepaid.
3. Full Pay Students: Students will pay for meals at the school’s published paid meal rate each day. The charged meals offered to students will be all reimbursable meals available to any student, unless the student’s parent or guardian has specifically provided written permission to the cafeteria to withhold a meal. All a la carte items and second entrees must be paid/prepaid.
Staff Training - Ongoing
All Food Service Staff will be trained annually and throughout the year as needed using the NYSED Webinars or the school’s training program. Staff will be trained to ensure that the District’s policy is implemented correctly and consistently. Staff trainings will include:
• The District’s procedures for managing meal charges
• Ongoing techniques that can be used to not stigmatize, distress or embarrass students
• Current eligibility certification guidelines for free or reduced meals
Parents/guardians will be notified within three (3) days when a student’s meal account balance has become negative and then every week thereafter.
Parents/guardians will be notified that a student’s meal account balance is exhausted in one or more of the following ways:
• a negative balance letter will be mailed home
• will receive a message by the district’s automated message machine
• will receive an email by the district’s automatic email
• will receive a phone call from the Food Service Director
• charges that are not paid within 1 month will be classified as “delinquent debt; at this point it will become an Administrative issue
1. The Food Service Director (FSD) will communicate with parents/guardians with five or more meal charges to determine eligibility for free or reduced price meals.
2. Parents/Guardians will be allowed to request in writing or via email that their child is not allowed to charge a reimbursable meal. A note will be placed on the Student’s account by the FSD.
3. The FSD will make two documented attempts to reach parents/guardians to complete an application for free or reduced meals. This is in addition to the application and instructions provided at the start of the school year and in the school’s new student enrollment packet.
4. The FSD, Administration, or a District Counselor will contact the parent/guardian to offer assistance with completion of the meal application.
5. The FSD, Administration or a District Counselor will contact the parent/guardian to determine if there are other issues within the household causing the child to have insufficient funds, offering any other assistance that is appropriate.
Minimizing Student Distress
1. Staff will not publicly identify or stigmatize any student on the line or discuss any outstanding meal debt in the presence of any other students.
2. Students who incur meal charges will not be required to wear a wristband or hand stamp, or to do chores or work to pay for meals.
3. Staff will not throw away a meal after it has been served because of the student’s inability to pay for the meal or because of previous meal charges.
4. Staff will not take any action directed at a pupil to collect unpaid school meal fees.
5. The FSD will deal directly with parents/guardians regarding unpaid school meal fees.
6. Staff will not send home outstanding balance notes with students.
7. The student will not be made to choose an alternate meal (i.e. Cheese sandwich).
8. If a student asks about his/her lunch account balance the staff will answer him/her.
9. The District will not use a debt collector to obtain outstanding money.
Eligibility Certification - Ongoing
1. The FSD will conduct direct certification with Statewide Direct Certification (DCMP) monthly to maximize free eligibility.
2. The FSD will provide parents/guardians with a paper copy of the free and reduced price meal application and instructions at the beginning of each school year.
3. The FSD will provide at least two additional free and reduced price applications throughout the school year to families identified as owing meal charges.
4. The District will use administrative prerogative carefully, only after using exhaustive efforts to obtain a completed application from the parent/guardian. The District will complete the application using only available information on family size and income that falls within approvable guidelines.
5. The FSD will communicate regularly with the District’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) regarding foster, homeless, migrant and runaway students to certify eligible students.
6. FSD will communicate with the Monday’s Child, Instructional Support Team (IST), and Student Support Team (SST) committee to identify potential eligible students and
to determine if there are other issues within the household causing a child to have insufficient funds.
Additional Eligibility Requirements
1. The FSD will provide a 30 day “Grace Period” for free and reduced priced students from the previous school year. Students will keep their eligibility for the first thirty (30) operating days of the new school year or until a new eligibility determination is made.
2. Students transferring from Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) or provision 2 (P2)
participating school to a non-participating school will be provided with thirty (30) days
free eligibility or until a new eligibility determination is made, whichever comes first.
3. The FSD will accept free and reduced price eligibility from transfer students.
Students/Parents/Guardians are encouraged to pay for meals in advance via www.MySchoolBucks.com, with a check payable to CCS or cash. Funds should be maintained in accounts to minimize the possibility that a child may be without meal money on any given day. Any remaining funds for a particular student may/will be carried over to the next school year.
MySchoolBucks offers a simple way to keep track of your child’s lunch account for free. Once you open an account you can set up a low balance email reminder and add an app to your phone. To open an account you need to call Amy Braun, Cafeteria Manager, for your child’s ID number.
To obtain a refund for a withdrawn student, a written or e-mailed request for any money remaining in the student’s account must be submitted. Students who are graduating will have their funds transferred to a sibling’s account or a refund will be given if they have no sibling.
Unclaimed (Refunds) Funds must be requested within the current school year. Unclaimed funds will become the property of the CCSD Food Service Program.
Non- discrimination Statement: This explains what to do if you believe you have been treated unfairly. “In accordance with Federal Law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discrimination on the bases of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington D.C. 20250-9410 or call toll free (866) 632-9992 (voice). Individuals who are hearing impaired or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Services at (800) 845- 6136 9Spanish). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
Adoption: March 18, 2014
Revised: June 14, 2018