No-charge high school meal policy enforcement begins January 2, 2017
After months of educating parents about significant revisions to Board Policy 6227 Student Meal Charges (Revised April, 2016), full enforcement of the no-charge policy for high school students will begin January 2, 2017.
The policy change was sparked by the staggering amount of outstanding student meal charges. Federal program requirements direct school systems to reimburse child nutrition programs with local dollars. Last year $105,000 was necessary to settle the unpaid meal balances, the equivalent of 2 teaching positions.
The revision imposes a $15.00 charge limit for elementary and middle school students and a no-charge policy for high school students.
Child nutrition program officials and school administrators have been working directly with parents this school year to help them understand the new policy as well as make them aware of outstanding balances through personal and automated phone calls and letters. Staff have also worked with families to assist with completion of free and reduced meal applications, These efforts have dramatically reduced the amount of meal charges at this point in the school year by more than 50% compared to last year's data; however, of the $30,499 owed more than 50% of the balance ($15,763) is attributed to 481 high school students.
Parents of any high school student with an excessive meal charge balance will receive a letter this week informing them the no-charge policy will be enforced January 2, 2017. This means their high school student will not be served a school lunch. Brunswick County Schools provides all students, regardless of meal application status, a free nutritious breakfast.
The impact of the outstanding balances might not only impact a high school student's lunch; high school students who owe money are not permitted to participate in prom or commencement exercises.
Child Nutrition Director Robert Parker is in the business of feeding students and urges parents of high school students who receive a letter to contact their child's school or his office. "We will work with them...they just have to make the effort," said Parker.