• Meal Charge Policy and Procedures

    2022-23 School Year

    Meal Charge Policy Notification, Support and Communication

    Why is there a new policy and changes?

    • Our district is required by law to have a meal charge policy to meet the requirements of the Hunger-Free Students’ Bill of Rights Act and RCW28A.235 and 28A.300.  Changes were made to meet the intent and requirements of the law. These procedures establish a consistent process, as well as a shared understanding for charging meals and minimizing the identification when students do not have money.

    What are the key takeaways?

    • It is the goal for student meal accounts to remain positive and households will be accountable for meal charges accrued by their child.

    • Any child who requests a meal will be served a fully reimbursable meal from the daily menu of their choice, the first time through the line. 

      • a fully reimbursable meal is a complete breakfast or lunch on any school day which includes: 1 complete entree (protein and grain), milk, fruit and vegetables
    • Children are allowed to charge meals to their account even when an unpaid balance is on the account; there are no charge limits. 

    • A student’s meal account may not be blocked to deny or delay a nutritionally adequate meal. 

    • No a la carte items will be allowed to be charged to a student account with an unpaid meal balance, but can still purchase those extra items with cash or check.

      • A la carte items include: 2nd portions of the main entree, beverages, snacks, or dessert items

    • Adults or visiting customers may not charge meals for any reason. 

    • Children who have money to pay for a meal at the time of service must be provided a meal. The money may not be used to repay previously unpaid charges if the child intended to use the money to purchase a meal. 

    • Hand stamps, stickers, or any other means of overt identification of children with unpaid meal debt in the cafeteria or the classroom are prohibited. 

    • Children with unpaid meal debt shall not be required to work off their debt, including, but not limited to, wiping down tables or cleaning the cafeteria.

    • School staff members will not initiate conversations with children regarding unpaid meal charges. All communication regarding unpaid meal debt will be directed to parents or guardians.

    • All balances, positive or negative, carry over to the next school year.

    Common Questions & Answers:

    What can I do as a parent/guardian to minimize unexpected meal charges?

    • Communicate with your child about school meal account charges and your household expectations. You know your child better than anyone. If your student has a unique situation, contact the student's teacher or food services so we can support you and your child. 

    How will I know my student's ongoing or current account balance?

    • To prevent excessive meal charges, the Food & Nutrition Services Department staff will notify families of negative account balances promptly using the district's automated communication systems (email and text) to  guardians. 

      • Text message balances will be sent Sunday and Wednesday evenings to all parents/guardians.

      • Emailed balance statements will be sent Monday and Thursday evenings to primary parents/guardians listed as "Family 1" in our Skyward student system.

    • Parents may also monitor balances 24 hours a day and sign up for low-balance notifications through the online payment system www.mymealtime.com

      • To sign up you will need to know your child's school and 6 digit ID number with leading zero. (i.e. 0612345).

    • The Nutrition Office can look up any balance and provide you with emailed account statements by request. Call 425-335-1561 or email foodservices@lkstevens.wednet.edu.  The school offices do not have access to this information. Please contact Food Services. 

    Will my student be automatically alerted in the service line if their meal account will be charged? 

    • No, the law requires that school staff members will not initiate conversations with children regarding meal charges; however, food service staff can inform students the account is getting low on funds.

    • If a child directly asks about his/her meal account balance, the Food Services staff will communicate with the child discreetly. 

    • All communication regarding unpaid meal debt will be directed to parents or guardians. Effort to collect debt should not negatively impact children, but rather focus on parents and/or guardians.

    What if I want to block or lock my student’s account from charging breakfast or lunch? 

    • Our policy requires that we feed every child who wants a full reimbursable meal and no child will be denied a school meal because of an inability to pay. A student’s meal account may not be blocked to deny or delay a nutritionally adequate meal. 

      • While we understand that as a parent/guardian, this may be frustrating for some and reassuring for others, but we must ensure that students are fed. The intent of the law and our policy is to feed students without delay that request a meal. We must also not overtly identify them in the line due to account meal debt and for that reason, any student may charge a school meal that enters the line to request a meal.

    • Students are not allowed to charge any a la carte items (i.e 2nd portions of the main entree, beverages, snacks, or dessert items) to their student meal account. If you would like to restrict your student from purchasing any a la carte items with their meal account funds, please submit this written electronic request.

    What if my student eats breakfast at home or packs a lunch, but he/she still enters the line and is charged for a meal? 

    • The household will be responsible for the meal charge(s). We have no way of knowing who is hungry and who is not, or who left a sack lunch in a backpack or who ate breakfast at home. If a student enters the line and requests a meal, we will feed them.  If your student has a unique situation, contact the student's teacher or food services so we can support you and your child as you continue to navigate these meal charging guidelines.

    How can I pay for school meals?

    • Online: You can make an online payment through our meal payment system www.my mealtime.com

      • To sign up you will need to know your child's school and 6 digit ID number with leading zero. (i.e. 0612345). For quick tips on how to sign up and more information click here. 

      • There is a small transaction fee of 4.9% for the secure payment processing services through www.mymealtime.com. For example a $20.00 deposit would have a $0.98 service fee.

      • Funds deposited online are reflected in the student's account within 5 minutes.

      • There is a $20.00 minimum total deposit.

    • At School: We accept cash or checks (made payable to Food Services) at any school or the district office. 

    What is the price of school meals?

    Who can I contact if I have questions about my student account or how to apply for free or reduced-price meal benefits?

    • Please contact the Nutrition Office at 425-335-1561 or email foodservices@lkstevens.wednet.edu and we would be happy to assist you. 

    • To review our free and reduced-price meal application materials and information click here.

    Food Service Quick Links