Guidance on unpaid school lunches

There has been increased discussion recently about how schools should appropriately handle parents owing money for their children’s school meals.

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) includes breakfast and lunch along with several other programs. Federal regulation requires that all schools who participate in the breakfast and lunch NSLP offer all students attending third grade and under a reimbursable meal. Students attending fourth to twelfth grade are not addressed by federal regulation and guidance and so the local policy becomes the guidance for these grades. (Basis 7CFR 245.8, FNS instruction 765-7)

The second part of the issue is parents owing money and the appropriate response to that is less clear. At some point, the money owed to schools must be considered a bad debt and should be treated as such.  Bad debts are not an allowable cost for Federal Programs, therefore, this cost must be part of another local budget.  The supporting documentation is in OMB A-87, OMB A-122 and OMB A-21 circular.

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