Schools
Unpaid Meal Charges Draining Your Budget?
Roxanne Moore
Roxanne Moore
National Director of Wellness Brand Management Team Sodexo School Services, North America

Student breakfast or lunch charges left unpaid, accruing over time, can impact a school’s financial budget, becoming “delinquent debt” as defined by state or local policies. How can schools recover charges to help budgets go further? The USDA recommends starting with a clear written policy with details on how a School Food Authority (SFA) addresses unpaid meal charges in cases where students eligible for reduced price or paid meals may not have funds available at time of service. Another tip is to provide the written policy to all current and new households at the start and during the school year.

Couple of points to note: SFAs can use Nonprofit School Food Service Account (NSFSA) funds to collect costs. A debt owed to the NSFSA remains on accounting reports until the debt is either collected or is determined to be uncollectable and written off. When local officials determine further collection efforts for delinquent debt are insignificant or too costly, the debt must be reclassified as bad debt. Once a delinquent debt is reclassified as bad debt, it is written off as an operating loss. NSFSA resources may not be used to cover costs related to the bad debt, such as continued legal and collection costs.

Your Services Provider Can Help

Meal programs in US schools have continued to improve to effectively address the needs of children, however multiple outside initiatives have impacted the effectiveness and success of the process. As a leader in Quality of Life Solutions, Sodexo delivers onsite nutrition programs and facilities management services that enhance the learning environment and improve the quality of life for the communities we serve. Our culinary, nutrition and regulatory experts have been successfully implementing the requirements of USDA Food and Nutrition Services, supporting the local and regional operations teams delivering to our students. Contact us to discuss how we can serve your district.

Is CEP the right financial choice for your programs? Deadline to elect is June 30 (state agencies may differ)

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