Unpaid Meal Policy

Unpaid Meal Policy and Procedure

It is our mission at the Perry County School District to provide nutritious, balanced and affordable breakfasts and lunches to every student. We know that a healthy body supports a healthy mind, and we want our children to learn and grow to the best of their abilities.

The Perry County School District participates in the National School Lunch Program, which is a federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions. It provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day. The program was established under the National School Lunch Act, signed by President Harry Truman in 1946.

Unless meals are provided at no charge, the district expects students and employees to pay for meals prior to or at the time of receipt. The ability to charge meals is a privilege, not a right, and is subject to the limitations established in this procedure.


At the beginning of each school year, a copy of the district’s unpaid meal procedure will be provided to every parent/guardian in the district as required by law. In addition, a copy of this procedure, along with information about free and reduced-price school meals, will be provided to the parents/guardians of all students who enroll after the beginning of the school year.

A copy of this procedure will also be provided to all building administrators, staff responsible for collecting payment for meals at the point of service, staff involved with notifying parents/guardians about account balances, school social workers, nurses, counselors, the district liaison for homeless children and youths, and any other staff who regularly assist students in need.

A copy of this procedure will also be posted on the district’s website, and information about charging meals will be included in the student handbook.


  1. Students in Pre-K–Grade 8 who pay full price may not go more than $9.00 negative in their lunch account. Students who pay reduced price may not go more than $2.00 negative in their lunch account. Students in Grades 9–12 are not allowed to carry a negative balance in their lunch account.
  2. Students may not charge à la carte items.
  3. A student with money in hand will not be denied a meal even if the student has past due charges.
  4. Students will not be identified, singled out, shamed or punished by the district for the failure of their parents/guardians to pay for or provide meals, and the district will not withhold student records in violation of law.

Alternative Meals

If the district’s meal service line is designed to collect payment prior to students receiving food, a student who has accumulated the negative balance outlined above and is still unable to pay for meals may be provided an alternative meal. Alternative meals will be given to the student by the cashier and will be available to all students as an alternative to the regular meal. If a student has been provided a regular meal, that meal will not be taken away from the student even if the student should have been provided an alternative meal due to unpaid meal charges.


After a student accumulates the negative balance outlined above, the district will encourage the parents/guardians to submit an application for free and reduced-price meals if an application has not been recently submitted, and the student will be referred to a counselor for intervention. The counselor will:

  1. Meet with the student to assess to the extent possible whether the student or the student’s family is experiencing hardships, barriers or other circumstances with which the counselor could assist.
  2. Make repeated attempts to contact the parents/guardians to notify them of the lunch charges, discuss the situation and any other concerns the counselor may have after meeting with the student, and resolve the situation.
  3. Encourage the parents/guardians to submit the free and reduced-price meals application and inquire about any assistance that might be needed to complete the application.
  4. Provide other resources as applicable.

District employees are mandated by the state of Missouri to report any instances of suspected abuse or neglect to the Children’s Division (CD) of the Department of Social Services. District personnel will report to the CD any instance where a student’s arrival at school with no provision for food leads to a reasonable cause to suspect neglect.

Working with Parents/Guardians

To ensure that parents/guardians have ample opportunity to resolve situations involving unpaid meal charges, the district will:

  1. Provide timely notification to parents/guardians when account balances run low (when applicable) and each time their student charges a meal.
  2. Invoice parents/guardians for unpaid meal charges during the district’s monthly billing cycle, in addition to providing notification of outstanding balances by other means.
  3. Work with parents/guardians to create a payment plan that allows for the payment of accumulated balances over time.

Delinquent Debt

Unpaid meal charges will be considered a delinquent debt 90 days after notice that charges are due when no payment or payment plan agreement has been made. Unpaid charges will be considered delinquent as long as the district determines the debt is collectible and efforts to collect the debt are ongoing. The district will make reasonable efforts to collect delinquent debt, including turning over unpaid meal charge balances to a collection agency when the superintendent or designee determines such action is in the best interest of the district. The district’s Nonprofit School Food Services Account (NSFSA) funds may be used to cover the costs of reasonable efforts to collect delinquent debt, including costs associated with using a collection agency.

Bad Debt

When the district determines that collection of delinquent debt is impossible or too costly, the debt will be reclassified as bad debt. Bad debt is debt that will be written off as an operating cost. These costs must be restored using nonfederal funds. NSFSA resources may not be used to cover any costs related to bad debt. Instead, local funds will be used to cover the costs. Local funds include:

  1. State revenue matching funds in excess of state revenue matching-fund requirements.
  2. State and local funds provided to cover the cost of student meals.
  3. Local contributions from organizations or individuals.
  4. Revenue from adult meals prepared using resources outside the district’s food service and not funded by the NSFSA.
  5. Revenue from the sale of à la carte items and profits from foods not purchased with NSFSA funds and funded by an account separate from the NSFSA.
  6. Revenues from catering or contracting services that operate from an account separate from the NSFSA.

Free and Reduced Lunch Program

We encourage all Perry County School District families to complete and return the Free and Reduced Lunch Program application each year at https://www.perryville.k12.mo.us/domain/35. These applications are confidential. The Perry County School District qualifies for additional funding and programs when participation in the Free and Reduced Lunch program increases. Children may qualify for participation if the family meets income guidelines; automatic enrollment occurs for families receiving SNAP (food stamps) or TANF benefits and homeless, migrant and runaway children. For more information, contact 573-547-7500, ext. 328.

USDA Non-Discrimination Statement

In accordance with Federal Civil Rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Civil Rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity (including gender expression), sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, family/parental status, income derived from a public assistance program, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior credible activity, in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA (not all bases apply to all programs). Remedies and complaint filing deadlines vary by program or incident.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the responsible Agency or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program discrimination complaint, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD-3027, found online at How to File a Program Discrimination Complaint and at any USDA office or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by: (1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; (2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or (3) email: program.intake@usda.gov.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.