6000 - Support Services

6221 Collection of Child Nutrition Meal Charges



The Pender County School System is committed to providing nutritious meals at affordable prices through the efforts of the Child Nutrition Department.  In order to maintain the lowest meal prices possible, all families who qualify to pay either full or reduced price for student meals should make complete payment for meals purchased at the point of service or in advance with check, cash, or using a credit card online via www.lunchprepay.com. For a $10 fee for the life of the account, per family, parents have access to view their child’s meal history with enough detail to indicate when extra items are purchased. These program guidelines are written for the purpose of encouraging payment to the school system by those who are classified as having the ability to pay.  Nothing within these guidelines should be construed to change the USDA and North Carolina approved Child Nutrition Program.  All those who qualify for free or reduced price meal benefits will be served in accordance with program regulations.


Historically, Pender County Schools has allowed students to charge meals across all grade levels, which has resulted in large end-of-year deficits for the school system. In order to standardize the practice of meal charges and collections among all the cafeterias within the county, these guidelines shall be placed into effect beginning with the 2015-2016 school year.


I.                   Information Distributed to Parents/Guardians and Students

In an effort to ensure parents/guardians and students receive information regarding the collection of meal charges due to the Pender County Schools Child Nutrition Program, policy 6221, Collection of Child Nutrition Meal Charges, will be included in the Student Code of Conduct. The Student Code of Conduct will be given to every student upon their entrance into the school system at the start of each year. Each school will responsible for the distribution of the Student Code of Conduct.  All information provided to parents/guardians shall be posted within each cafeteria and shall be made available on the school system website at www.pendercountyschools.net


II.                Free Breakfasts for Reduced Students

In accordance with NC Statutes all students attending Pender County Schools who are approved for reduced price meals are eligible for free breakfast. Parents/Guardians of students who cannot afford to pay for meals served should apply for free or reduced price meal benefits upon enrollment to avoid meal charges. Applications for free or reduced price meal benefits will be processed in a timely manner once received in their entirety by the school system.  Charges for meals will accumulate in accordance with the guidelines of the program. Applications for the program are available at the school or by calling the Child Nutrition Department at (910) 259-2187. In accordance with changes to the USDA standards, the Child Nutrition Department will no longer accept the parent’s signature date as the approval date. The date the application is received in the Child Nutrition Office and date stamped is the date of approval. If the School Office date stamps the application, that is the date of approval.


III.             Ability to Charge

All Pender County School K-13 students will be allowed to charge up to $20 for traditional lunches. After the $20 limit has been reached, the parent will receive a call from the school requesting they pack a lunch for the student until the charges are paid in full. No a la carte or extra items, including milk, can be purchased if the account has a negative balance. Adults (including visitors and staff members) will not be permitted to charge meals. Meal charge data collected during the school year will be evaluated to determine if programmatic changes should be made. Child Nutrition will no longer accept starter checks or checks dated less than 1000. No meal shall be taken from a student if they have already made it to the register.


IV.             Notice of Balances and Meal Charges to Students

Child Nutrition Cashiers are allowed to inform students of low account balances and students will also receive a verbal reminder each time a meal is charged in grades K-12. Cashiers are allowed to disclose how much money is in a student’s account should he or she ask.


V.                Notice of Meal Charges to the Parent/Guardian

The school system recognizes that payment for meals received by students is the responsibility of the parents/guardians of the student. 


After the $20 charge limit has been reached, the parent/guardian will receive a call from the school requesting they pack a lunch for the student until the charges are paid in full. Parents/Guardians will also receive an automated negative balance alert call when the account has incurred charges of $20 or more.


The Child Nutrition office will mail charge letters home on a biweekly basis on the 1st and 3rd weeks of the month for all students with account balances that are in arrears. Balance due rosters will be printed in each cafeteria on a weekly basis and furnished to the front office for review by the Cafeteria Manager.


Nothing in these guidelines shall prohibit Child Nutrition Managers or School Administrators from making contact with parents/guardians concerning meal charges owed.  Child Nutrition Managers and School Administrators are encouraged to use their best judgment in contacting parents/guardians at any time throughout the year for any amount owed.


VI.             Parental/Guardian Choice in the Child Nutrition Program

At any time they desire, parents/guardians may provide special instructions to the Child Nutrition Program to Jacqueline Harvey at (910) 663-3555 concerning their account preferences for their children.  Parents/guardians may elect to restrict purchases of snacks or restrict food charges by students.


 VII.          Employee/Adult Charges

As of the effective date of these program guidelines, neither employees nor other adults will be permitted to charge for meals or individual food items.


VIII.    Progressive Meal Charge Collections Process

The following procedures apply to all school meal charges.  The procedures shall be uniformly applied to all school sites.





Action Taken



Personal contact is made by the Child Nutrition Department or School Staff to inform parents/guardians of the child’s account balance. They will be asked to remit payment or to consider completing a free or reduced meal application, to be returned to the Child Nutrition Office.


+$5.00 to -$20.00

The Child Nutrition Department sends a bi-weekly standard written charge notice home via Postal Service on the 1st and 3rd weeks of the month. The notice contains information on the student’s account balance and the free or reduced meal program. They will also receive a call home weekly regarding the balance due.



The Child Nutrition Director mails a written notice home.  The notice shall state reminders to pay the account until charges are paid in full; or the student may be eligible for free/reduced meals through the USDA free or reduced meals program and should apply.  If approved for free/reduced meals the parent/guardian will remain responsible for full payment of the account, including any additional reduced meal charges that may have accrued prior to approval. The parent will then be responsible for sending the student’s lunch until charges are paid in full.


-100.00 and above

The Child Nutrition Department will turn these accounts over to the Board Attorney for collections. The parent will also be referred to the Social Worker as stated in the next section of this policy.


IX.             Referral to Social Worker

If in the opinion of the Principal the financial position of a family warrants referral to a social worker, the Principal may assign a social worker to make contact with a family.  The social worker may provide information on any/all federal, state, or local assistance services including the Department of Social Services.


X.                Additional Collection Methods

Nothing within this document shall prohibit the school system from using any such additional methods of collection as are allowed by law including, but not limited to:  referral to the school system attorney, referral to a collections agency, or the pursuit of legal remedies through the North Carolina Judicial System.  Where such other collection efforts are pursued, the cost of collections shall be sought from the parent/guardian.


XI.             Modification of Guidelines

The Pender County School System shall modify these guidelines as necessary to best meet the needs of the school system.  Modifications to the guidelines shall be posted in each cafeteria and shall be made available on the school system website.


 XII.          Unpaid Charges

While each student’s Child Nutrition account zeros out at the end of each school year, the balance is still owed to the Pender County Board of Education. The Board of Education is responsible for reimbursing Child Nutrition for all remaining balances when Child Nutrition closes the school year per State Regulations OMB A-87, which states that “ Bad debts, including losses (whether actual or estimated) arising from uncollectible accounts and other claims, related collection costs, and related legal costs, are unallowable. 


XIII.    Nondiscrimination

“The USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer”


XIV.    Effective Date

These program guidelines shall be effective July 29, 2015

Legal References:

Cross References:

Adopted: August 03, 2016

Last Updated: July 12, 2016


Legal References:
Cross References:
Monday, 03 August 2015
Last Updated:
Tuesday, 12 July 2016