Updates on PfISD School Lunch Charge Policy
(beginning April 17, 2023)
As we shared with Staff and Families in the past few weeks, due to a large balance of unpaid lunch charges owed to PfISD (more than $180,000 at this time), PfISD has reinstituted a pre-COVID policy of substituting the main entrée for those students who currently owe more than $6 on their lunch account. We have received several questions and seen social media content raising questions about the policy, and we wanted to share more information with our staff and parents.
We know that good nutrition is a cornerstone of a student’s well-being, and although the entrée is substituted for a sandwich, the students are allowed to keep all sides included with the regular lunch meal. District and Aramark staff have reached out to families to attempt to set up a payment plan and have the families complete the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Application, which would reduce or eliminate the cost for these students to eat lunch. We will continue these efforts.
We have a balance deficit of over $180,000 due to unpaid lunches –ten times the previous norm. The district was fortunate enough to leverage federal funding and offer several years of free lunch options for students due to Covid. Unfortunately, those federal funds have decreased or ended. We began informing families last summer that the free lunches were no longer available for students for the 23-24 school year. Pflugerville ISD has been lucky to be one of the few districts still offering free breakfast to all students.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees school lunches, school districts must pay for any outstanding school lunch balances from their general fund at the end of the school year. We must redirect funds away from students’ programs and teachers’ resources to meet this federal payment requirement. In Pre-Covid years, the district could expect to see a negative lunch balance of $16,000 – $18,000 at the end of the year. This year, we increased our budget for unpaid meal accounts to $30,000K in anticipation of growing needs within our district. Additionally, PfISD has not raised meal prices in 5 years. Since 2011, the USDA has mandated price increases for school lunches; however, districts with positive fund balances can opt out and NOT increase the price of school lunches, which PfISD has done.
Source: PfISD (2023, May 5). Weekly Parent/Guardian Update. PfISD Pfamily Pflyer. Retrieved May 5, 2023, from https://www.smore.com/auq4g)