Letter to the Editor:
As the food service director for Aviands Food & Services Management in the Northland Pines School District, I recently had the opportunity to participate in a policy committee meeting to review the school board policy defining negative food service account balance procedures.
An article written in the News-Review by a freelance writer in attendance at this meeting caused some community response. I would like to clarify for the community the information presented by Mr. Ken Anderson.
The committee discussed the food service negative account balance policy. All members were in full agreement that all students be allowed to have lunch, regardless of the extent of a negative account balance.
The wording of Mr. Anderson’s article indicated that students with negative balances are having meals taken from them in the lunch line. Although it was reported that this has happened in years past, it is no longer happening. It was adamantly agreed upon by all members of the committee that this is a parental pay issue, not a student lunch issue.
All Northland Pines students will receive a lunch, regardless of their lunch account balance. The committee did agree, however, that if a student has a negative balance, he or she would not be allowed to charge items outside of the National School Lunch Program meal, often referred to as à la carte, to the lunch account.
Examples of such items are a slice of pizza, hamburger, chips, cookie, bottled beverages, etc. These additional items could be purchased for cash, allowing the student to have more to eat, but the student could not charge these items to their lunch account, creating a larger negative balance for their parents.
If we are parent-directed that a student may not have à la carte items, and a student takes à la carte items, then we must remove à la carte items from the tray unless they pay cash. The student still gets a full meal regardless.
Mr. Anderson did accurately indicate that for a lunch to be reimbursable in the National School Lunch Program, it must contain three of five food components offered: dairy, fruit, vegetable, grain and protein. At least one of those three must be a fruit or vegetable.
I’d also like to reiterate that the food service account is a debit not charge system. There must be money available to purchase meals and à la carte with a student lunch account.
Please be sure to keep your account in the positive with regular deposits. Free and reduced-price meal applications are available in all school buildings. If you are experiencing hardship and are in need of assistance, please be sure to fill out and submit an application for meal benefits.
If you require assistance in completing the application, please feel free to contact me or anyone in your child’s school office.
Northland Pines School Board policies can be viewed from the district website at npsd.k12.wi.us under District Information, Board Policies. If anyone has a question regarding the food service policy or his or her student’s account, please feel free to contact me at (715) 479-5800.
Food service director
Aviands Food & Services Management
Northland Pines School District