Meal Charge Policy

  • Effective Date: 7/1/2017

    As provided in SP 46-2016, all school food authorities (SFAs) operating the federal school meal programs (National School Lunch Program and/or School Breakfast Program) must have a written and clearly communicated meal charge administrative procedure in place no later than July 1, 2017. All SFAs must have an administrative procedure in place for children participating at the reduced price or paid meal rate that either do not have money in their account or in hand to cover the cost of the meal at the time of service. SFAs are required to communicate that administrative procedure to families and school and/or district-level staff members as appropriate. SFAs should ensure the administrative procedure is communicated on an annual basis.

    Families will have access to the meal charge administrative procedure via a written copy of the district-wide charge administrative procedure that is included in student handbooks or packets that are given to each student at the start of each school year. Families of transfer students (during the year) will receive a written copy of the district-wide charge administrative procedure in their student handbook as well.

    Local Charge Administrative Procedure Considerations


    Students in grades PK-8 who are unable to pay for their meals at the time of the meal service are allowed to charge breakfast and/or lunch. Students charging breakfast and/or lunch will receive reimbursable meals. High school students, adults and visitors will not be allowed to charge breakfast, lunch or à la carte items. Principals may fund an account to pay for student meals at their discretion.

    Charge limits

    As some parents do not want their child to charge meals, parents of students in PK-8 will be required to “Opt In” for lunch charges. The “Opt In” sign off option will be found in the Skyward Registration Process.  Once parents “Opt In”, the amount of charges allowed for grades PK-8 is $10.00 for full pay students and $2.00 for reduced price students. Once the student reaches the charge limit, one alternate meal will be given to the student per nine weeks. Grade 9 – 12 and adults will not be allowed to charge and will not be given an alternate meal.

    Alternate meals

    One alternate meal will be provided in grades PK-8 after the child’s negative balance exceeds $10.00 and in lieu of charging. Once the child exceeds the charge limit, ONE alternate meal at no charge will be provided until the charge is paid in full. Only ONE alternate meal per nine weeks will be allowed. After ONE alternate meal is provided, parents will either need to send a lunch from home or pay the negative balance in full. Schools choosing to have a Principal’s account may request that a child who has exceeded the charge limit and alternate meal limit may use the Principal’s account to pay for the meal.

    The alternate meal will include the following:
    Breakfast - Toast and white milk
    Lunch - Sunbutter sandwich and white milk

    Household Notification

    Low balance notification: Automated robo calls will be made every Friday for anyone whose account balance is between $.01 to $5.00. Zero balance accounts will not receive a call. This is a courtesy reminder call only.

    Negative balance notification: Automated robo calls will be made daily for anyone whose account is in the negative. Anyone getting close to the charge limit will receive an email notification if an email address is provided in Skyward.

    Delinquent Debt

    Delinquent debt is defined as overdue unpaid meal charges that are considered collectible, with efforts being made to collect them. The debt may remain on the accounting documents until it is either collected or determined to be uncollectible.

    The household’s debt will be delinquent for 14 days before the SFA requests payment. Families that fail to repay the debt will be unable to participate in the breakfast and lunch program. In addition, report cards will be held until the debt has been fully paid. Attempts will be made by the School Nutrition department to collect all debts owed. To pay a debt or for further information, contact Velva Gray at 615-453-7308.

    Repayment plans

    Each household may request a repayment plan that will include payment levels and due dates appropriate to a household’s particular circumstances. Please contact Velva Gray at 615-453-7308 for establishing a repayment plan.

    Bad Debt

    Bad debt is determined to be uncollectible, with further collection efforts for delinquent debt deemed useless or too costly. Delinquent debt will be considered as bad debt after June 30th of the current school year.

    • Bad debts (debts which have been determined to be uncollectible), including losses (whether actual or estimated) arising from uncollectible accounts and other claims, are unallowable. Related collection costs, and related legal costs, arising from such debts after they have been determined to be uncollectible are also unallowable (section 200.426 of subpart E).
    • Bad debt must be written off as an operating loss after June 30th; the nonprofit school food service account (NSFSA) resources may not be used to cover the costs related to the bad debt. Wilson County Schools General Purpose Fund will pay for any bad debt owed after June 30th.
    • Once delinquent meal charges are converted to bad debt, records relating to those charges must be maintained in accordance with record retention requirements in 7 CFR 210.9(b)(17) and 7 CFR 210.15(b).

    Additional Resources

    Families may find assistance with applying for free or reduced price schools meals by contacting Velva Gray, Wilson County School Nutrition office, at 615-453-7308.

    “In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

    Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

    To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at:, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

    1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture
    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
    1400 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;
    2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or
    3) email:

    This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Charge Policy FAQ

  • Why has the charge policy been changed?

    Effective 7/1/17, USDA requires all School Food Authorities operating the NSLP (National School Lunch Program) and/or School Breakfast Program, to have a written and clearly communicated meal charge procedure in place.  After revisiting our previous charge policy, changes were made to ensure all parents concerns were answered.

    What is the main change in the charge policy?

    The main change is that parents have to “Opt In” in order for their child/children to be able to charge.  Many parents have expressed the concern that their child was allowed to charge a meal when they either sent a lunch from home or sent money for lunch that was used for unapproved purchases.  Parents are responsible for their charges and felt they were double spending.

    What grades are allowed to charge after “Opting In”?

    Pre K through grade 8 will be allowed to charge meals after the “Opt In” letter is received.

    Can grades 9 – 12 “Opt In” to charge?

    Grades 9 – 12 cannot “Opt In” to charge.  It is felt that this age student is able to manage their budgets and balances.  In addition, there will be no alternate meal provided for those who don’t have available funds.  Adult meals and ala carte items cannot be charged.



    What do I need to do if my children are on the Free or Reduced lunch program?

    Students on the Free/Reduced lunch program will be able to eat for 30 calendar on their eligibility from the prior year in order to have time to reapply for benefits.



    How will I know when my child’s account is in the negative?

    Parents will receive an automated call each day that their child’s account is in the negative.  In addition, any account between $.01 and $5.00 will receive a “low balance” courtesy call each Friday.  The cafeteria manager will monitor accounts daily and let the teacher know if a student is over the charge limit.


    How can I put money on my child’s account?

    There are numerous ways to put money on an account.  Go to School Café and set up an account for your child.  You can set a minimum amount so that when it’s reached, you will be notified by email.  Check or cash can be sent to school with your child as well.  We now have a free iOs and Android mobile app for School Café.  Payments can be made through the app.  In an emergency, debit/credit card payments may be processed by calling the School Nutrition office at 615-453-7308.  A 5% processing fee will be added on both School Café and the School Nutrition office for credit/debit card processing.

    Who do I call if I have questions on School Café?

    You can call Dana Worley at 615-453-7294 or Cybersoft at 866-442-6030.