This is the 2017 Edition of Overcoming the Unpaid Meal Challenge: Proven Strategies from Our Nation’s Schools. This best practice guide is designed to support state agencies and local program operators in their efforts to find workable solutions to the challenge of unpaid meal charges.
This question and answer memorandum is designed to provide an overview of policies related to unpaid meal charges and to address common questions FNS has received from state agencies, school food authorities, and local program operators.
The purpose of this memorandum is to strongly encourage local educational agencies to accept eligibility determinations from a transferring student’s former LEA to minimize disruptions in meal benefits for low-income students and avoid student debt resulting from unpaid meal charges.
There has been confusion about how unpaid meal charges must be handled when all collection efforts have been exhausted. To help address these situations, this memorandum clarifies the processes of designating delinquent debt that has been determined to be uncollectable as bad debt and obtaining assistance to offset bad debt losses.
The purpose of this memorandum is to address the need for school food authorities participating in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program to institute and clearly communicate a meal charge policy, which would include, if applicable, the availability of alternate meals.