School meals, policies for students

As the summer comes to a close and students are getting prepared to head back to school, the Patrick County Public Schools’ Food Services Division offers a few reminders to parents.

Breakfast is free to all students; the charge for adults is $1.50. “Grab and Go” carts are in each school, with traditional breakfast foods served in cafeterias.

The regular prices of school lunches are: $1.85 for elementary school students; $1.95 for high school students. Reduced lunch is 40-cents and adult lunches are $3.
To apply for free or reduced lunch benefits, fill out the form included in the registration packet and submit. Forms also are available online.

A new USDA mandated charge policy and wellness policy can be found on the school division’s website. www.patrick.k12.va.us. Parents are encouraged to read the policies. If a hard copy is needed, call (276) 694-3836.

The school division’s Unpaid Meal Charges Policy is as follows:

Students who do not have money on account or in hand to cover the cost of a meal at the time of service may be permitted to charge the meal. Students may charge no more than $150 of meals to their accounts. A student carrying a negative balance of $150 or more is not permitted to charge any additional amounts. A student who is not permitted to charge any additional amounts is permitted to buy a meal if the student has cash on hand.

Reasonable efforts are used to avoid calling attention to a student’s inability to pay. Notices of low or negative balances in a student’s meal account are sent to parents and the school principal. Parents are expected to pay all meal charges in full by the last day of the school year. If a parent regularly fails to provide meal money or send food to school with the student and the student does not qualify for free or reduced benefits, the nutrition director will inform the principal. The principal then will determine the next course of action, which may include notifying the department of social services of suspected child neglect and/or taking legal steps to recover the unpaid meal charges.

Collection steps may include turning the unpaid account over to a collection agency.

The superintendent ensures that federal child nutrition funds are not used to offset the cost of unpaid meals and that the child nutrition program is reimbursed for bad debt.  In order to accomplish those goals, the following procedures are followed:

  • At least one written notice is provided to a student and the student’s parent or guardian before the student is denied meals for exceeding the division’s charge limit.
  • If payment of the negative balance is not received within five working days of the maximum charge limit being reached, the debt will be turned over to the superintendent or superintendent’s designee for collection. If the debt is not paid within five days of notice being given, it is considered bad debt for the purposes of federal law concerning unpaid meal charges, and may be turned over to a collection agency.

The program, ‘my school bucks’ will be used again this year as a way for parents to keep money on their child’s account. There is a $2.50 convenience fee which goes to the software company to process the payment. The program is now back online.

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