I.    PURPOSE

    The purpose of this policy is to ensure that students receive healthy and nutritious meals through the school district’s nutrition program and that school district employees, families, and students have a shared understanding of expectations regarding meal charges.  The policy of the school district is to provide meals to students in a respectful manner and to maintain the dignity of students by prohibiting lunch shaming or otherwise ostracizing the student. The policy seeks to allow students to receive the nutrition they need to stay focused during the school day and minimize identification of students with insufficient funds to pay for school meals as well as to maintain the financial integrity of the school nutrition program.


    1. Families may submit payment via cash or check at any school office or the Education Services Center, or utilize our online payment system through Family Access via debit/credit card or checking account. Food Service staff are able to accept payments over the phone at the Education Services Center, and can be reached at 763-689-6210.
    2. If the school district receives school lunch aid under Minnesota Statutes section 124D.111, it must make lunch available without charge to all participating students who qualify for free or reduced-price meals regardless of account balance.
    3. A student with an outstanding meal charge debt will be allowed to purchase a meal if the student pays for the meal when it is received.
    4. A student who has been determined to be eligible for free and reduced-price lunch always must be served a reimbursable meal even if the student has an outstanding debt.
    5. Once a meal has been placed on a student’s tray or otherwise served to a student, the meal may not be subsequently withdrawn from the student by the cashier or other school official, whether or not the student has an outstanding meals balance.
    6. When a student has a negative account balance, the student will not be allowed to charge a la carte item or second entree.
    7. Parents or guardians make payments to one account that is shared between all sibling accounts.


    1. The school district will make reasonable efforts to notify families when meal account balances are low or fall below zero.
    2. Families will be notified of their balance once it is less than $10. Families will be notified by automated emails and text messages.
    3. Reminders for payment of outstanding student meal balances will not demean or stigmatize any student participating in the school lunch program, including, but not limited to, dumping meals, withdrawing a meal that has been served, announcing or listing students’ names publicly, or affixing stickers, stamps, or pins.


    1. The school district will make reasonable efforts to communicate with families to resolve the matter of unpaid charges. Where appropriate, families may be encouraged to apply for free and reduced-price meals for their children.
    2. Families may apply for free/reduced meals anytime during the school year. Applications are mailed to all families in the school district prior to the school year. In addition, applications are available at the district office, all school offices and on the district’s website under Food Service.
    3. The school district will make reasonable efforts to collect unpaid meal charges classified as delinquent debt.  Unpaid meal charges are designated as delinquent debt when payment is overdue, the debt is considered collectable, and efforts are being made to collect it.
    4. Negative balances of more than $50, will be turned over to the superintendent or superintendent’s designee for collection. In some instances, the school district does use a collection agency to collect unpaid school meal debts after reasonable efforts first have been made by the school district to collect the debt.  Collection options may include, but are not limited to, use of collection agencies, claims in the conciliation court, or any other legal method permitted by law. 
    5. The school district may not enlist the assistance of non-school district employees, such as volunteers, to engage in debt collection efforts. 
    6. The school district will not impose any other restriction prohibited under Minnesota Statutes section 123B.37 due to unpaid student meal balances. The school district will not limit a student’s participation in any school activities, graduation ceremonies, field trips, athletics, activity clubs, or other extracurricular activities or access to materials, technology, or other items provided to students due to an unpaid student meal balance. 


    1. This policy and any pertinent supporting information shall be provided in writing (i.e., mail, email, back-to-school packet, student handbook, etc.) to: 
      1. all households at or before the start of each school year;
      2. students and families who transfer into the school district, at the time of enrollment; and
      3. all school district personnel who are responsible for enforcing this policy.
    2. The school district will post this policy on the school district’s website, or the website of the organization where the meal is served, in addition to providing the required written notification described above.

    Source: Cambridge-Isanti Schools

    Legal References:

    • Minn. Stat. § 123B.37 (Prohibited Fees)
    • Minn. Stat. § 124D.111 (School Meals Policies; Lunch Aid; Food Service Accounting)
    • 42 U.S.C. § 1751 et seq. (Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act)
    • 7 C.F.R. § 210 et seq. (School Lunch Program Regulations)
    • 7 C.F.R. § 220.8 (School Breakfast Program Regulations)
    • USDA Policy Memorandum SP 46-2016, Unpaid Meal Charges: Local Meal Charge Policies (2016) 
    • USDA Policy Memorandum SP 47-2016, Unpaid Meal Charges: Clarification on Collection of Delinquent Meal Payments (2016)
    • USDA Policy Memorandum SP 23-2017, Unpaid Meal Charges: Guidance and Q&A

    Reviewed:    02-21-02, 02-22-11, 07-19-12, 02-23-17, 09-20-18, 01-19-23

    Approved:    03-21-02, 03-20-10, 03-23-17, 10-11-18, 02-27-23

Policy Manual