Meal Charging Policy

Howell Public Schools recognizes the importance of adequate nutrition for students to learn and provides daily breakfast and lunch service in all buildings.  The goal of the Howell Public Schools Food Service Department is to provide healthy meals to all students.  It is not the intent to deny a student a meal, shame or embarrass a student due to cafeteria charges. 

The purpose of this policy is to insure compliance with federal requirements for the USDA Child Nutrition Program, and to establish consistent meal account procedures throughout the district to minimize the fiscal burden to the district. The following guidelines will apply regarding charges.

Students who do not have enough money in their meal account or enough money on hand to pay for their meal(s) are allowed to receive one reimbursable breakfast and one reimbursable lunch of their choice each day.  The cost of the meal will be added to the student's outstanding balance.  

The charging privilege pertains to complete reimbursable school meals only. Students who have a zero or negative account balance cannot charge a la carte items (such a milk, juice, chips, cookie or single entree).

A parent/guardian does have the ability to withhold meals. In addition, there is the ability to restrict a la carte purchases and or set daily spending limits.  A parent/guardian can do so by providing a written or emailed request to the Food Service Department or online through their Family Portal account.  

When a student's account falls below zero in their account, parents/guardians will receive an automated phone call twice a week to notify them that their student's account is in need of a deposit. If a student is without meal money on a consistent basis, the administration will investigate more closely and take further action as needed. Direct communication with a student about a negative balance is prohibited, especially not in the presence of other students, unless unsuccessfully attempted to contact the student’s parent or legal guardian first through telephone, mail, and electronic mail. Also prohibited is requiring of students who cannot pay for a school meal or who owe a negative balance to wear a wristband or handstamp, perform chores or other work to pay for school meals, and disposing of a meal after it has been served because the student is unable to pay for the meal or has a negative balance.

Payments to a student's meal account can be made by check or cash at the school, or online through the Family Portal with a credit card, debit card or from a checking account.  Funds should be maintained in accounts to minimize the possibility that a child may be without meal money on any given day.  Account balances (positive or negative) will follow the student each year within the district.  

Parents/guardians are responsible for the cost of meals for their student(s), and/or submitting a completed application for Free or Reduced price meals. Families are also responsible for any meals charged before the meal benefit application is approved.  Applications for Free or Reduced price meals and instructions are provided to all families annually in paper form and available online.  Families can apply for Free or Reduced price meals at any time throughout the school year.  Additional resources are available on the Food Service Department webpage.    

With a written or emailed request to the Food Service Department students who leave the district or are graduating and have a positive account balance on their account can request a refund or can transfer any remaining funds to a sibling’s account.  Account balances must be requested within 60 days of the account becoming inactive.  Inactive student accounts with a balance of $25.00 or more will follow the State of Michigan’s manual for reporting unclaimed property. All other accounts, after a good faith effort to refund, will be transferred to the Angel Fund which provides financial assistance to students who are unable to pay negative account balances.

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