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710.4 Meal Charges


In accordance with state and federal law, the Estherville Lincoln Central Community Schools 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

Students have use of a family meal account. When the balance reaches $0.00 a student may charge no more than $25.00 to this account. When an account reaches this limit, a student shall not be allowed to charge further meals or a la carte items until the negative account balance is paid. Families may add money to student accounts by electronic payment through PaySchools or by paying at the school office in cash, money order or personal check.

Students who qualify for free meals shall never be denied a reimbursable meal, even if they have accrued a negative balance from previous purchases (such as morning or afternoon milk).  ALL students with outstanding meal charge debt shall be allowed to purchase a meal if the student pays for the meal when it is received.  Due to privacy issues, an alternative meal will not be served and parents with a negative family meal account shall provide a suitable meal for their child (ren).

Employees and their families shall not be allowed to charge for meals. When an account reaches this limit, an employee shall not be allowed to charge further meals or a la carte items until payment is made to the family or individual employee's account.

Negative Account Balances

The school district will make reasonable efforts to notify families when meal account balances are low. Additionally, the school district will make reasonable efforts to collect unpaid meal charges classified as delinquent debt. The school district will coordinate communications with families to resolve the matter of unpaid charges. Families will be notified of an outstanding negative balance once the negative balance reaches $10.00. Families will be notified by the District’s automated calling system.  Negative balances of more than $25.00, not paid prior to the end of the month will be turned over to the superintendent or superintendent’s designee for collection. Options for collection 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 were communicated to households and staff will be retained.

The superintendent may develop an administrative process to implement 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  04/17                                   Reviewed 12/21                                   Revised