Resource | Technical Assistance & Guidance
Unpaid Meal Charges

The goal of the school meal programs is to provide nutritious meals to children during the school day. Children may receive breakfast and lunch at no cost to them if they are categorically eligible for free meals or if they qualify for free meals based on federal poverty guidelines. Sometimes, however, children who do not qualify based on these standards would like a breakfast or lunch, but do not have money in their account or in-hand to cover the cost of the meal at the time of the meal service.

Resource | Policy Memos | SP29-2017
2017 Edition: Overcoming the Unpaid Meal Challenge: Proven Strategies from Our Nation’s Schools

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 edition incorporates clarifications requested by State agencies and FNS Regional Offices. Changes are highlighted throughout the guide.

Resource | Policy Memos | SP23-2017
Unpaid Meal Charges: Guidance and Q&As

This Question and Answer memorandum is designed to provide an overview of policies related to unpaid meal charges and to address common questions the Food and Nutrition Service of the United States Department of Agriculture has received from state agencies, school food authorities, and local program operators. The Q&A includes questions related to the local charge policy requirement, student eligibility for free or reduced price meals, payment options for families, alternate meals, and debt collections.