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Meal Charge Policy

Gibson County Special School District

School Meal Charge Policy

I.                    Purpose

The Gibson County Special School District recognizes that healthy, nutritious meals play an important role in student readiness and their ability to learn. The purpose of this policy is to insure compliance with federal reporting requirements for the USDA Child Nutrition Program, and to establish procedures for methods of payment, charge availability, and collection methods. The provisions of this policy are in place for children participating at the reduced price or at the paid meal price rate for school breakfast and lunch who either do not have money in their account or in hand to cover the cost of the meal at the time of service. This policy is set to establish the following goals:

·       To ensure that all students receive a nutritious meal every day.

·       To establish a consistent and fair practice across the district regarding meal charges and collection of charges.

·       To support positive and clear communication among staff, administrators, teachers, students, and parent/guardians.

·       To encourage the parent(s)/guardian(s) to assume the responsibility of payments and to promote self-responsibility of the student. 

Families will have access to the school meal charge policy via the district website at In addition, the policy will be available as part of the online student registration information to insure all students, including transfer students, have access upon enrollment.

II.                  Student Accounts / Charge Limits
Any student whose school meal account has a zero or negative balance will be allowed to charge a reimbursable meal. To qualify as a reimbursable lunch, the meal must consist of at least (3) of the (5) offered meal components (grain, meat/meat alternate, fruit, vegetable, and milk) with one of the 3 being a ½ cup fruit or vegetable. Under no circumstances will a student with a zero or negative account balance be allowed to purchase a second meal or any a la carte items until the student’s account is in good standing.

Ø  For Students with FREE School Meal Status – Free status students will be allowed to receive one free breakfast and one free lunch every day meals are offered. Students are required to take all food components necessary to constitute a reimbursable meal.  Items sold on an a la carte basis are not part of the USDA program and must be purchased with cash on hand or money on the child’s meal account. A la carte items cannot be charged.

Ø  For Students with REDUCED School Meal Status – Reduced status students will be allowed to receive one breakfast for $0.30 and one lunch for $0.40 every day meals are offered. Students are required to take all food components necessary to constitute a reimbursable meal. Students with a reduced price meal status will be allowed to charge meals up to        -$4.00. When a child’s account reaches the -$4.00 charge limit, he/she will no longer be able to charge until their account returns below the -$4.00 limit.

Ø  For Students with PAID School Meal Status – Paid status students will be required to prepay or pay cash/check at the register for all meals and/or a la carte purchases. No a la carte or snack items can be charged to an account with insufficient funds, even if the child offers to pay in cash at the register. Students with a paid price meal status will be allowed to charge meals up to -$25.00. When a child’s account reaches the -$25.00 charge limit, he/she will no longer be able to charge until their account returns below the -$25.00 limit.


III.                Household Notifications / Payment Methods
Each school cafeteria manager will closely monitor student meal accounts with the goal of eliminating negative balances and delinquent accounts. Once a student’s account falls below $3.00, the cashier will inform the student that he/she will need to add funds to their account to avoid reaching a negative balance. When a child’s account reaches below zero, the school cafeteria manager will notify the parent(s)/guardian(s) either by letter, phone, or email to inform them of their child’s negative balance. These notifications will be sent home weekly or until the account balance is in good standing. Parents are strongly encouraged to utilize the school district online meal payment system to register their child’s meal account at which gives them access to:

§  Request e-mail alerts to receive low balance notifications

§  Make payments to their child’s meal account

§  Set up automatic deposits into their child’s meal account

§  View student transaction history of all meal purchases and deposits


IV.                Debt Collection Process
When the charge balance reaches the limits set above, the school administration or cafeteria manager will contact the parent/guardian by phone or email to request immediate payment. If the parent/guardian has not made any payments in an effort to reduce the negative balance or fails to bring the student’s account in good standing within (30) days, the administration may:

o   Refer the account to a collection agency

o   Initiate a claim in the court system

o   Notify other appropriate state agencies

Each household may request a repayment plan that will include payment levels and due dates appropriate to a household’s particular circumstances. To establish a repayment plan, you may contact Paige Garner, School Nutrition Director, at (731) 692-3803 or email at
ALL accounts must be “paid in full” and in good standing by the last day of the school year. If a senior’s account is not in good standing as of May 15th, the administration may prohibit the student from participating in senior activities and/or graduation exercises. Delinquent debts that are deemed uncollectable due to unforeseen circumstances will be determined as bad debt effective June 30th of each school year. Funds from the school district’s general fund will be obtained to restore the unallowable bad debt to the School Nutrition Department account.

V.                  Refunds
A parent/guardian may request a refund on money remaining on a child’s account due to the child withdrawing from the school district, graduating, or if the child’s meal status changes to benefit the household. In order to receive a refund, the parent/guardian must submit the request in writing via email to the school cafeteria manager or contact Paige Garner at (731) 692-3803 or Also, if a parent has a graduating senior with a remaining balance, that child’s balance may be transferred to a younger siblings account upon request.

VI.                Free/Reduced Meal Application for Households
Meal application forms may be completed and submitted online at Once you are on the school district website, click the following tabs to locate the application: “For Parents”, “Cafeteria”, “Free/Reduced Meal Application” “Apply Online” and you are ready to begin! Feel free to contact Paige Garner at (731) 692-3803 for assistance with applying.