• Chester County Intermediate Unit Meal Charging Policy

    The Chester County Unit recognizes the important link between proper nutrition and academic success. The purpose of this policy is to establish a consistent district procedure for charging meals when students do not have money to pay, preventing meal charges, and ensuring eligible children are certified for free and reduced-price school meals, and be in compliance with Act 55, titled Food Shaming., passed on December 6, 2017.

    Charging meals:

    Because hunger is an impediment to learning, no child shall be denied a breakfast or lunch because of an inability to pay. Children will be served a meal that meets the U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition standards for school meals.

    • A student who request a school meal must be provided with one regardless of whether the student has money.
    • A student’s tray is never to be taken away from them after being served due to the student’s inability to pay for the meal or the amount owed.
    • A student may only purchase a la carte items if they have a positive account balance. Students are NOT permitted to purchase Ala carte items even if they have money to make the purchase. They MUST pay their negative account balance before any ala carte items are to be sold.
    • Students grade 9-12 may discreetly be given their account balance, all other grades will only be given their balance if the student request it.
    • Charging by adults is prohibited.
    • If you do not wish for your child to have the option of charging meals, then you must contact Vicki Canham, at 610-383-5439, or email, vickic@cciu.org.

    Hand stamps, stickers, or any other means of overt identification of children with unpaid meal debt in the cafeteria or the classroom are prohibited. Additionally, children with unpaid meal debt shall not be required to work off their debt, including, but not limited to, wiping down tables or cleaning the cafeteria.

    Preventing meal charges:

    • You have the option to view your child’s account by going onto www.schoolcafe.com and receive low balance notifications at no fee. You can set the limit at your discretion. $5.00 would be our recommendation. (you will need your child’s student ID number). If you do not have your child’s student ID number please email Vicki Canham or call 610-383- 5439. You may also make payments on this site, however, there is a 5% fee per deposit. 
    • You may always send cash or a check made payable to CCIU in an envelope marked with your child’s name, homeroom and ID number.
    • Provide all households with school meal applications at the start of the school year and/or include instructions for completing online school meal applications;
    • Provide school meal applications in the primary language of the parent or guardian, and help provide assistance with completing an application for any household that requests assistance; 
    • promptly utilize data provided by the state or other school district officials to certify eligible children without an application; and 
    • assure that any child for which the school district is not able to obtain a completed school meal application but becomes aware of their eligibility for free or reduced-price school meals shall be certified based on an application submitted by the appropriate school official, as permitted by USDA guidance.

    To ensure that households are aware of negative account balances the school nutrition department will:

    • Send out weekly balance notices. 
    • Notify and/or work with principals, school counselors, and/or teachers to understand the student and parent’s situation and if a school meal application is needed;
    • Use automated email alerts, or postal mail to notify parents of negative balances

    Collecting unpaid meal debt:

    Communication regarding unpaid meal debt shall be directed at parents or guardians.

    Prior to contacting households regarding unpaid meal debt, the school nutrition staff shall ensure that the student is not participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, or other federal programs, which would confer categorical eligibility for free school meals, or is not homeless, migrant, or in foster care, and would allow them to be certified without an application.

    When a student owes for 5 meals, the school nutrition staff will make at least two attempts to reach the parents or guardian. The household will be contacted by email, phone, or letter home to provide information on how to apply for free or reduced-price school meals or to add funds to the school nutrition account. Staff at this time may communicate account balances discreetly with students grade 9 thru 12. All other grade levels, students must ask before the cashier is permitted to give their account balance.

    Building Principals will be notified by the food service department of a non-response from the parent/guardian about the negative account and will proceed by direct communication with the parent/guardian. If there is a non-response to the principal, the Chief Financial Officer will be informed and additional collection measures will be pursued.

    All debt must be paid off at the end of the school year. Student with a negative lunch account balance at the end of the school year will be considered a student obligation. The policy referenced in your school’s student handbook will now apply to your meal account obligation.


    Donation Request: A request to donate the fund balance to benefit a student in need, or to the Food Service Program, a written request must be submitted. An e-mail request is also acceptable and may be sent to vickic@cciu.org

    Withdrawn Students: For any student who is withdrawn, a written request for a refund on account balances of $5.00 or greater remaining in their account must be submitted. An e-mail request is also acceptable and may be sent to vickic@cciu.org.

    Graduating Students: For any student who is graduating, a written request for a refund on account balances of $5.00 or greater remaining in their account must be submitted. An e-mail request is also acceptable and may be sent to vickic@cciu.org.

    Funds can also be transferred to a sibling’s account with a written, e-mail or verbal request.

    Unclaimed Funds: All refunds must be requested within one year. Unclaimed funds will then become the property of the Chester County Intermediate Unit Food Service Program.

    Nondiscrimination Statement

    In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

    Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English. 

    To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the online USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form (AD-3027), fill out at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

    (1)     Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture

               Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights

             1400 Independence Avenue, SW

             Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

    (2)     Fax: (202) 690-7442; or

    (3)     E-mail: program.intake@usda.gov.


    This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

     And Justice for All