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.k12paymentcenter.com. For a $10 fee for the life of the account, per family, parentshave access to view theirchild’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 for the 2015-2016 school years.

I. Information Distributed to Parents/Guardians and Students

In an effort to explain the services and operations of the Pender County Schools Child Nutrition Program, a Child Nutrition section will be available in every school’s student handbook. The handbook will be given to every student upon their entrance into the school system at the start of each year. The handbook contains general information about meals served, snack items available, charges and the collection of charges, online services and payment options, an explanation of the free and reduced price meal program and an application for free or reduced price meal benefits. Each school will responsible for the distribution of this handbook to every student at the start of each school year.  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 approved for Reduced Price Meals attending Pender County Schools are eligible for free breakfast. Parents/Guardians are encouraged to utilize this opportunity.Changes made by the USDA standards will no longer accept parent’s signature date to be the approval date. The date the application is received in the Child Nutrition Office and date stamped that day or School Office if they date stamp it is the day of approval.


III. Ability To Charge

All Pender County School K-13 students will only be allowed to charge up to $20 for traditional lunch only. After the $20 limit has been reached, the parent will receive a call from the school asking them to pack a lunch for the student until the charges are paid in full. If your student does not bring a lunch from home, they will receive a cold lunch choice consisting of PBJ or other cold sandwich or entree salad, cold fruit and vegetable offerings including juice and Milk. They must select a complete meal to receive this option. The student can resume receiving regular lunch choices when 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.No Meal shall be taken from a student if they have already made it to the register. But after they have reached their $20 Charge limit the students will be reported to the School Office and Child Nutrition Administrator who will contact them personally.


IV. Notice of Balances and Meal Charges to Students

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


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


Parents will receive a low balance alert when the account is below $5.00. 


V. Notice of Meal Charges to the Parent/Guardian

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. 


Parents may receive low balance alerts by phone when accounts are below five dollars ($5.00). Additionally, 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. Lastly, 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.


Child Nutrition shall maintain, at no charge to the parent a secure, online account service which allows parents to make credit/debit card payments online.  A third-party fee may be charged for the convenience of making online payments.


Parents may pay for Premium service of $10 which allows the viewer access to account balance and transaction history for the family and the life of the account.


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 CN Department or School Staff to inform parents/guardians of the child’s account balance and they will be asks to remit payment, to consider completing a meal Application, and returning it 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 for Balance due and Low Balance of $5.00 or more



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 student will continue to receive USDA approved meals. The Parent will then be responsible for sending the student’s lunch until charges are paid in full, then the child can resume receiving meals in the cafeteria. If your student does not bring a lunch from home, they will receive a cold lunch choice consisting of PBJ or other cold sandwich or entree salad, cold fruit and vegetable offerings including juice and Milk.They must select a complete meal to receive this option.   The student can resume receiving regular lunch choices when the 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.


1. 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.

2. 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 to include, 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. Any non-sufficient fund checks will be applied back to the accounts and we will no longer accept checks from that party the accounts can then only be paid by Cashier’s Check, Money Order or Cash.) Once the payment for a NSF Check (by cash or Money order) has been received the payment will be added back to the account

3. 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.

4. Unpaid Charges

At the end of each school yearthe balance due does not go away, it follows right on and after the collection time to CN it then goes to the Board of Education. Pender County Board of Education is responsible for reimbursing Child Nutrition for any balance dues remaining 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 cost 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:
Monday, 03 August 2015
Last Updated:
Tuesday, 13 March 2018