In a survey conducted by the School Nutrition Association in 2016, 76% of k-12 school districts reported meal programs with unpaid student lunch debt. That’s a startling statistic.
Some schools have accumulated so much unpaid student lunch debt it threatens to topple their already tight food service budgets.
It’s a sensitive subject for school administrators, cafeteria works and parents no doubt, but many k-12 schools have been forced to established policies to address the issue.
In order to help prevent unpaid student lunch debt at your school, try implementing these 3 policies:
1. Provide Alternate Meals
Allow students to pick up an alternative meal from the nurse’s office before entering the classroom. Try to serve alternate meals in a brown lunch bag to insinuate it may have been brought from home.
2. Prevent Overt Identification
If you’re offering alternative meals, be sure they are also available for purchase in the cafeteria. When sending home low lunch balance reminders to student families, do so discretely.
3. Send Low Lunch Balance Reminders
Send automated low lunch balance alerts via voice, email or text to ensure discretion. Ensure low lunch balance reminders are available in the parent’s preferred language.
What is your k12 school doing to eliminate unpaid student lunch debt? Share your thoughts on our blog!