The Matawan Aberdeen Board of Education is considering a new lunch policy that would provide the district a means to collect outstanding balances on students' lunch accounts.
The policy was up for a second reading and adoption at the board's regular action meeting on Jan. 28. However, member Joelle Nappi asked the board to hold the policy for further consideration, citing vague language and the fact that the policy was created by the previous board.
The new policy, if adopted, would establish a uniform process to notify parents about overdrawn accounts and offer them information on free and reduced lunch as well as ensure that each child receives lunch regardless of their financial standing with the food service management company, according to Superintendent David Healy.
"It's designed to provide a progressive process in addressing delinquent payments on lunch charges," Healy said. "The district is right now over $30,000 in arrears because the district is very compassionate in serving the kids lunch."
According to Policy 6641 - Student Lunch Charges, the district would require the food service management company to supply a list of students with negative balances each week.
The policy would allow students to purchase lunch on credit if they lost or forgot their lunch money or do not have enough money in their student lunch account. When the balance of the account reaches $10, the policy states that the student will be provided a standard lunch and given a note to take home to their parent or guardian. The note will explain that the child was served lunch, the total balance owed and that on the next occasion lunch will be limited. An application for free and reduced lunch will also be supplied.
On the second occasion that the student charges the account with a $10 or more debt, the student will be served an alternative lunch. The alternative lunch, according to the policy, will take into account dietary concerns for the specific student. The student would then be again given a note explaining that the child was served an alternative lunch and the debt owed. In addition, the principal or a designated school employee will call the parent or guardian to review the requirements and what will occur if the account continues to be overcharged.
After the third occasion that the student charges the account, the student will again receive an alternative lunch and a certified letter will be sent home by the principal describing the debt and future action. Another call home will be made by the principal or the designee, the policy states.
If an account balance reaches $25, the food service management company would also send a letter home to the parent, according to the policy.
If the account were to reach a $50 balance, the policy would allow the administration to seek reimbursement through a collections agency or by starting litigation against the parent or guardian.
A copy of Policy 6641, if adopted, would be sent home to all parents upon adoption and at the beginning of each school year. It would also be available on the district website.
Editor's note: The policy, as it was proposed on Jan. 28, is included under the photo attached to this article.
The next meeting of the Board of Education will be a workshop meeting on Monday, Feb. 11 at the administrative building on Crest Way in Aberdeen.