Meal Charge Procedure

Because hunger is an impediment to learning, no child will be denied a school meal because of an inability to pay.

It is the responsibility of parents or guardians to prepay for school meals, send payment with their student, provide a breakfast or lunch from home, or complete an annual application establishing eligibility for free or reduced-price meals. Nutrition Services is unable to use state or federal funds to forgive student meal debts and has established guidelines to help families manage cafeteria accounts.

The following steps will be taken to communicate with families and students regarding their account:

  • Cafeteria staff may give verbal reminders to students that their meal account needs to be replenished if the account carries a balance of less than $10. (Verbal reminders will not reference whether the account is low or negative.)
  • Students may be given a note to take home to inform parents that the meal account is low or negative, or notices may be mailed home.
  • Families may receive a reminder phone call.
  • Students will receive a complete meal regardless of their account balance. For a la carte, extra meal, or milk only purchases, students must have money in their account or make payment at the time of service.
  • School administration or district staff will contact families with negative meal balances to inform about the need to add funds to their students’ account, determine ability to pay, or offer assistance connecting with resources or creating a payment plan, as appropriate.
  • The district may pursue collection efforts for delinquent meal accounts.

DOES YOUR CHILD QUALIFY FOR FREE OR REDUCED PRICE MEALS?

Families are encouraged to complete an application for Free or Reduced-Price meal benefits anytime during the school year if they find their personal income situation has changed. Applications are available online via Meal App Now, or you can pick up a paper application in your school’s office or from Nutrition Services, 3321 S. Union Ave., Tacoma, WA 98409.

TRACK YOUR STUDENT'S ACCOUNT ONLINE

Families are additionally encouraged to enroll in the online prepayment service Lunch Money Now for convenient online payments and account tracking.

WANT TO LIMIT HOW MUCH YOUR STUDENT CAN CHARGE?

Parents or guardians may request in writing to not allow their student to charge meals, or to set a charge limit. Written request may be sent by email to NutritionServices@tacoma.k12.wa.us. (Attn: Meal Charges)

QUESTIONS?

If you have questions, please contact Nutrition Services at 253-571-3370.

Tacoma Public Schools' Meal Charge Procedure update is designed to comply with new state law related to the Hunger-Free Students Bill of Rights (HB 2610), which went into effect in June 2018.