School Meal Account Charges and Collections

In accordance with requirements established by federal and state oversight agencies, the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District shall utilize this written rule on the subject of meal charges and the collection of funds within the District’s food service program.  The Director of Finance and Operations shall have primary administrative responsibility for overseeing the consistent implementation of the rule that accompanies these procedures, including all of the following:

  1. Ensuring the rule is clearly communicated to school families and to District employees who have responsibility for the application and enforcement of the rule.

  2. Monitoring the nutritional, fiscal, and operational impacts of the District’s approach to meal charges and collections, and, at their own initiative or upon the request of the Board, providing reports and recommendations for changes and improvements.

  3. Coordinating the implementation and enforcement of the rule with the management and staff at any contracted food service vendor that the District may work with.

Key Responsibilities of Parents and Guardians
Parents and guardians must plan for their child(ren) to have sufficient access to food at school on each day school is in session and must actively monitor and manage their child(ren)’s school food service account, including making prompt payment of any charges.  Parents and guardians should communicate with their child(ren) about how meals, snacks, and other food will be provided each day.

Meal Charges for Students
When a student wishes to purchase a school meal, but does not have enough money to pay for the item at the time of service, The District’s food service account system normally allows a student to charge up to 4 meals in his/her account as a negative balance before the District will take steps to restrict the student’s meal choices.

Students who are not eligible for free school meals, who do not have money to pay for their food, who are not permitted to charge items, and who do not bring food from home will be offered an alternative meal for lunch only at the elementary level.  The cost of the alternative meal is the same as the cost of a lunch.

The alternative lunch normally consists of the following:  cheese sandwich, fruit or vegetable, and milk.

Consequences for Abuse of Privileges
School officials will address any possible abuse of the privilege of charging food service costs and, if applicable, any overuse of the alternative meal option with the student’s parent or guardian.  The District may suspend one or both of these privileges if the District determines that there has been abuse of the privilege.

Negative Account Balances and Negative Balance for Paid Students
A negative balance in a student food service account is a debt that is owed by the student’s parent(s) or guardian(s) (or, if applicable, by an adult student).  Debt that is owed within the food service program does not affect a student’s right to access a regular school meal at the time of meal service if either (1) the student is currently eligible to receive free meals at school, or (2) the student has sufficient funds to pay for the meal at the time the meal is purchased.

Parents/guardians of children with negative balances are notified by email that a negative balance exists.  Parent/guardians of elementary students will receive this email daily.  Parents/guardians of secondary students will be emailed twice per week. 

No ala carte items may be purchased with a negative balance.  This is in effect for all schools. 

Collection Procedures for Food Service Debts
Once a student’s account has a negative balance, the District will make an initial and follow-up attempt to collect the debt by providing the student’s parent or guardian with notice (e.g., by mail, email, telephone, or similar methods) of the amount owed.  Payment is due immediately upon notice.  If these attempts are not successful, a school official will attempt to make a person-to-person meeting with a parent or guardian.  The parties may discuss payment plan options.  If a negative balance still has not been paid after the previous steps:

  1. Debt in a student food service account is not automatically discharged, forgiven, or reduced at the end of the school year or due to a change in a student’s enrollment status (e.g., graduates, transfers, drops-out, etc.).

  2. At its discretion, the District may continue to pursue collection efforts.

  3. Debts owed to the District’s food service program may result in the denial of certain school-related privileges in the same manner that applies to other past-due school fees and other charges.

Online Account Management
The District offers an online system that a parent or guardian may use to monitor and manage each child’s school food service account, including making payments.  Additional information about the online account system can be obtained at each schools website, by contacting your child(ren)’s school, or by contacting the staff listed below.

Prepayment
The District strongly encourages school families to establish and regularly fund a prepaid school food service account for each student in the household.

Making Payments
In addition to using the online account system to make payments, a person who needs or wishes to make payment for a student’s meals or food service account may (1) bring cash or check to the main office of the student’s school in order to pay for a student’s meal or other food service items on or before the actual day of service, or (2) provide a student with cash or check to pay for items on or before the day of service.

Payment while an Application for Free or Reduced-Price Meals is Processed
An application for free and reduced-price meals can be submitted at any time during the school year.  However, unless a specific exception applies (such as the temporary carryover of prior eligibility), parents and guardians who submit an application remain responsible for payment of all school meals that their child receives until approval is granted.  In addition, approval of an application does not eliminate or reduce any charges that were accumulated prior to the date the application was submitted.

Additional Information and Assistance
For assistance with all issues and questions related to the District’s food service program, including eligibility and applications for free or reduced-price meals, student food service accounts, the District’s online account management system, as well as the specific issues addressed in these procedures, school can contact any of the following: