You are here

711.5 Meal Charges

Code No. 711.5


In accordance with state and federal law, the Riverside Community School District adopts the following policy to ensure school district employees, families, and students have a shared understanding of expectations regarding meal charges. The policy seeks to allow students to receive the nutrition they need to stay focused during the school day, prevent the overt identification of students with insufficient funds to pay for school meals, and maintain the financial integrity of the nonprofit school nutrition program.

The school nutrition program is legally obligated to be a self-sustaining program.  Family lunch accounts are not intended to be used as charge accounts, rather depository accounts whereby students can withdraw funds to purchase meals.  Students do not have individual lunch accounts.  A family lunch account is maintained which includes a total balance for the entire family that is reduced when any member of the family purchases a meal, second meal, extra milk, or a la carte item from the school’s nutrition program.  In order to assist parents in maintaining a positive family lunch account balance, the district has the following services available:

Parents may monitor family lunch account balances through JMC – Online Payment Access (link available on the district’s homepage).  Parents also have the ability to set up automatic notifications when the family account balance falls below a dollar amount set by the parent.  District secretaries can assist with setting up this feature.

Online lunch account/fee/fine payments may be made by credit/debit card or e-check through  Parents may also check payment history, review outstanding charges, and set up automated email reminders through  A link is included on the district’s homepage

Check/Cash/Credit Card payments are accepted at the main office of each district building

The district will send email and/or mail notifications periodically for each family account with a balance that falls below $10.00

Free/Reduced meal applications are available at each building office and during registration.  Please note that applications must be submitted annually and when household information or income changes.

Payment of Meals

Students who qualify for free meals shall never be denied a reimbursable meal, even if they have accrued a negative balance from previous purchases. Students with outstanding meal charge debt shall be allowed to purchase a meal if the student pays for the meal when it is received. The school district may provide an alternate meal that meets federal and state requirements to students who have charged the maximum allowance to the student account and cannot pay out of pocket for a meal.

Employees may use a charge account for meals, but may charge no more than $10.00 to this account. When an account reaches this limit, an employee shall not be allowed to charge further meals or a la carte items until the negative account balance is paid.

Negative Account Balances

When a family lunch account balance falls below -$10.00 per family member, each family member will receive an alternative meal.  (i.e. one family member eating school meals = -$10.00 balance before alternate meals are provided, two family members eating school meals = -$20.00 balance, etc.) The alternative meal will consist of a cheese sandwich, fruit, and milk at a cost of $0.50 per meal.  Alternative meals will be provided until the family lunch account balance is positive or payment arrangements have been made with the district’s business office. The district will send email and/or mail notifications periodically for each family account with a balance that falls below $10.00

The school district will make reasonable efforts to notify families when meal account balances are low. Additionally, the school district will make reasonable efforts to collect unpaid meal charges classified as delinquent debt. The school district will coordinate communications with families to resolve the matter of unpaid charges. Negative balances not paid prior to end of the school year may be turned over to the superintendent or superintendent’s designee for collection. Options for collection may include:  collection agencies, small claims court, or any other legal method permitted by law.

Communication of the Policy

The policy and supporting information regarding meal charges shall be provided in writing to:

  • All households at or before the start of each school year;
  • Students and families who transfer into the district, at time of transfer; and
  • All staff responsible for enforcing any aspect of the policy. 

Records of how and when the policy and supporting information were communicated to households and staff will be retained.

The superintendent may develop an administrative process to implement this policy.

Legal Reference:         

42 U.S.C. §§ 1751 et seq.

7 C.F.R. §§ 210 et seq.

U.S. Dep’t of Agric., SP 46-2016, Unpaid Meal Charges: Local Meal Charge Policies (2016).

U.S. Dep’t of Agric., SP 47-2016, Unpaid Meal Charges: Clarification on Collection of Delinquent Meal Payments (2016).

U.S. Dep’t of Agric., SP 57-2016, Unpaid Meal Charges: Guidance and Q&A (2016).

Iowa Code 283A.

281 I.A.C. 58.

Approved    6-20-2017   Reviewed            Revised  3-15-2021