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Meal Charge Policy

Board Policy 8505: Charging School Meals

The goal of the Ithaca City School District Child Nutrition Program is to provide student access to nutritious no- or low-cost meals each school day.

The purpose of this policy is to ensure compliance with federal requirements for the USDA Child Nutrition Program and to provide oversight and accountability for the collection of outstanding student meal balances.

The Ithaca City School District allows students to “charge” the cost of meals to be paid back at a later date, subject to the terms of this policy. The Ithaca City School District Child Nutrition Program provides this charging policy as a courtesy to students in the event that they forget or lose their lunch money. To comply with State guidelines and maintain a system for accounting for charged meals, regarding both full and reduced-price meals, the Board shall:

  • Permit parents and caregivers to pay for meals in advance via credit card on the District’s secure website, or with a check payable to Ithaca City School District Child Nutrition Program. This payment system is intended to be a debit rather than a credit system.  Any remaining funds for a particular student may/will be carried over to the next school year.  Parents and caregivers should maintain funds in accounts to minimize the possibility that a child may be without meal money on any given day.
  • Allow reimbursable meals to be charged, excluding extras, a la carte items, and snacks.
  • Permit students to charge for a meal; provided however that parents and caregivers remain financially responsible for any meals that are charged.
  • Use a computer-generated point of sale system, which identifies and records all meals as well as collects repayments.  Charged meals must be counted and claimed for reimbursement on the day that the student charged (received) the meal, not the day the charge is paid back.

Parents and caregivers shall be discreetly notified of student account balances regularly. When a student’s account balance falls to $0, the District will discretely notify the parent/caregiver of the balance by a nightly automated telephone call until deposit is made and posted to the student’s account. Parents and caregivers will also be notified regarding this policy and the process for refilling the account. These notifications will continue regularly until the account is replenished. Parents and caregivers must repay all unpaid charges remaining at the end of the year or before their child leaves the district, whichever occurs first.

The Ithaca City School District Child Nutrition Program will take measures to ensure that only appropriate officials trained on USDA’s confidentiality requirements who have a need to access a child’s account balance or eligibility information are permitted to request payment from parents and caregivers with unpaid meal charges. District personnel will, under no circumstances, address a negative balance with a child directly. The Ithaca City School District Child Nutrition Program will work with families with outstanding balances to develop a payment plan to pay back the debt and/or assist families with applying for free or reduced price lunches for their child, if applicable. If payment cannot be secured the collection of owed balances will be addressed in accordance with the regulations and guidance issued by the United States Department of Agriculture and the New York State Education Department.

Subsidized food programs are intended to benefit students and not adults. Staff members are allowed to purchase food from the District’s food services. However, all purchases must be paid for at the point of sale. Staff members are not allowed to charge meals to be repaid later.

Withdrawn and graduating students who seek a refund of funds remaining on their accounts should submit a written request for a refund to the Ithaca City School District Child Nutrition Program. Students who are graduating at the end of the year will be given the option to transfer the balance to another student who is carrying an unpaid balance. Unclaimed funds must be requested within one school year. Unclaimed funds will then become the property of the Ithaca City School District Child Nutrition Program.

Free and Reduced lunch applications are available in all schools or online. Call 274-2302 for more information.

For your convenience, we now accept Visa and MasterCard on our Secure Website. Cash or check payments will still be accepted at our Child Nutrition Office in the Boynton Middle School. Please pay your bill. Call us if you have any questions at 274-2302.

If you have a question about your child’s meal account and/or would like a copy of an Account History Report, please contact your School Food Service Supervisor (not the school main office) or the Child Nutrition Program by email or by phone at 274-2302.