Nutrition Services » Department Policies

Department Policies

Marion Center Nutrition Service Department Student Procedures    


The purpose of the MCASD Nutrition Service Department is to provide students with high quality, healthful meals at a minimal cost to families and to the district.  Therefore, it is our task to responsibly collect fair payment for meals served and also support those families who require financial assistance to access meals at school.  Parents/guardians are solely responsible for providing their children with money for breakfast and/or lunch. 

Therefore, the MCASD Nutrition Service Department will:

  • Provide easy methods for submitting payment to the school district for school meals
  • Provide on line access for families to have access to their child’s account balance
  • Provide clear information about the availability of federally subsidized school meals
  • Provide active help, when needed, in applying for federally subsidized school meals
  • Identify problems quickly and follow up with families before excessive IOUs have been accrued


The National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs are integral in ensuring that students have access to nutritious meals to support their academic success. It is also imperative to protect the financial stability of the school nutrition program. 


The intent of this policy is to establish a process and procedure to handle situations when children eligible for reduced price or full price meal benefits have insufficient funds to pay for school meals; as well as for the collection of unpaid meal charges and delinquent account debt. 


Depositing Funds & Using the Point of Sale System


  • A computerized declining balance system is used to track student deposits and purchases
  • Student accounts are accessed at serving time to process the purchase of meals, milk, or extra items. The system recognizes students’ eligibility for free or reduced price meals and charges the appropriate price.
  • Students who are not eligible for free meals are expected to have cash on hand or money in their accounts in anticipation of purchases.
    • In order to serve students quickly, payments are not accepted on the serving line in the elementary schools. Payments are collected in the classroom in the morning and sent to the cafeteria to be deposited into student accounts.
    • High school students may pay with cash at the point of purchase, but maintaining an account balance is highly encouraged. All transactions are documented on a student’s personal account regardless of whether they use cash or an available balance. 
  • Students eligible for free meals do not need to make deposits. However, they are welcome to maintain an account balance in order to purchase items beyond the breakfast and lunch meal that are provided free of charge. 
  • Elementary students, Pre-K—6th grade, are provided a lunch card with their name, photo, grade, teacher, and student identification number printed. Cards are kept in elementary homerooms. / Sr. high school students, 7th-12th grade, type their student identification number into the key pad at the registers. Students are responsible for their identification number and are not to give it to other students for use. The nutrition service department is not responsible for students’ misuse of their identification number.
  • Parents are responsible for the maintenance of their student account balances at all times.
  • To avoid unwanted purchases, parents/guardians may set up restrictions or limits on a la carte purchases on student accounts using SchoolCafe accounts. You many also contact the Nutrition Service Director for restrictions and account notes to be added to their child’s account, such as “no breakfast” or “full meals only.” 
  • Checks can be sent with students to school to establish or maintain an account balance. We do not give change for checks. 
  • Checks returned from the bank for insufficient funds will be assessed a $35 fee and the check amount will be deduced from the student’s lunch account. After two recorded NSF actions per school year, the district will no longer accept payment by check, payment may only be made by cash, money on hand, money order, or online.  This fee covers bank charges to the department, postage fees, and other costs involved with the collections of NSF checks. A certified letter is sent to the account holder along with information on payment. Should payment on the NSF check not be received by the date given on the letter, a hold will be placed on any deposits dealing with the student’s account involved. Deposits will not be reflected on those accounts until the original check and NSF fee has been recovered. NSF charges not recovered in the amount of time given will be sent to the district magistrate for collection.
  • Deposits can be made electronically at There is a 5% fee for electronic payments, but a single payment can be split between multiple children.  This convenience fee is imposed by the online service, not the district.  Payments are a minimum of $20 and a maximum of $1000.  Payments take about thirty minutes to make it to the student accounts at school, but may take up to 48 hours to post in the SchoolCafe account.  The Marion Center Area School District does not profit from this payment system.  It is provided as a convenience to families.  
  • Cash or checks sent for deposit must be in a sealed envelope with the student’s FULL name, homeroom, and ID number written on the front. We encourage parents/guardians to write the student’s full name on the “notes” section of checks for deposit.  Checks must be made payable to “Marion Center School Food Service.” Checks made out to individuals will not be accepted.
  • Cash deposits made by students are placed on the account in the amount dictated by the student, unless a written envelope or note accompanies the money. If a student presents a $10.00 bill and asks that $5.00 be placed on the account and that $5.00 change will be given back, that is what will be done. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that checks be used for deposits.
  • Cash payments that are sent to the school, but not received by the cafeteria cannot be honored. Checks or on-line payments are encouraged as safer payment methods. 
  • Money may be transferred between students within the district only with written permission from the parent/guardian.
  • Efforts will be made to provide account balance information to students and their parents/guardians –
    • Parents/guardians are strongly encouraged to monitor account balances and request low balance email alerts on line via free enrollment in for students in all grade levels. They are strongly encouraged to set up free notification alerts to begin when the student account reaches a $5 balance. 
    • Cashiers will verbally inform students when their account balances are low. This will be done in a gentle manner so as to be helpful, not threatening or embarrassing.  Once a student’s account is being charged IOUs, all communication will be directed to the parents/guardians.
    • When a student asks a cashier for their account balance the cashier will provide the balance discretely.
    • Negative balance email alerts and school messenger calls will be sent to parents/guardians on a weekly basis until the account is brought current.


Charging Procedures (IOUs)


  • No students, under any circumstances, are permitted to accrue charges from sales of non-reimbursable meals or a la carte items. They may only purchase a la carte items if they have money available.  A student will be discretely informed at the point of sale that they have no money for a la carte in their account or they need cash in hand to pay for it. 
  • Students will never be denied a main meal option and a lunch tray will never be taken away from a student, unless a student’s parent/guardian has provided written permission to withhold a school lunch.
  • The Nutrition Service Director, or his/her representative, will review account balances weekly and contact parent guardians of students with five charged meals (IOUs) via the School Messenger auto call system at least two times weekly during the school year.
  • Direct communication regarding money owed will be made to the parent/guardian only. Students may deliver communications in letter form, addressed to the parent/guardian.
  • If negative balances reach $25 or greater at the end of the month, a letter will be sent by the Nutrition Service Director indicating that monies are due or payment arrangements need to be made within ten business days.
  • Students with negative account balances of $50 or greater will have a letter sent to their parent/guardian indicating that if payment is not made within 14 days, the account may be turned over to the District Magistrate or a collection agency. Any further costs incurred due to lack of compliance will be the responsibility of the parent/guardian.
  • A late payment fee/surcharge of 20% may be added to the account balance for paid status meals in debt at the end of the month.
  • The Nutrition Service Director will work actively with administrators and parents to avoid excessive IOUs, to support the repayment of IOUs, and/or to approve the family for subsidized school meals.
  • The written meal charge policy will be communicated to the households by posting on the Marion Center Area School District Nutrition Services website and in student handbooks for all buildings to be distributed at the beginning of the school year and to all incoming transfer students during the school year.
  • Nutrition Department staff will receive training on the meal charge policy and record of training will be maintained as part of the professional development portfolio.


Year End Balances


  • Students’ account balances, both positive and negative, are maintained on record at the end of the school year and carried over as the beginning balance for the next school year.


Account Closure Procedures/Refunds


  • Refunds are provided with the intent of closing the student’s cafeteria account.
  • Written notification is required from a parent/guardian when refunds are requested for a student who is still actively enrolled in the district.
  • Students/Staff are entitled to a refund of their account balance, except amounts less than $ .50, upon their departure from the district. Graduating seniors will be required to sign for receipt of any balance refunded.
  • Refunds can be obtained by contacting the district only, not through


School Meals


  • Marion Center Area School District participates in the National School Breakfast and Lunch program administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
  • It is the parent/guardian’s responsibility to apply for free/reduced benefits each school year.
  • A National School Lunch Program Free/Reduced Meal application shall be available to all parents/guardians online at, or on the SchoolCafe smart phone app, or paper applications are available in each school building or by calling the Nutrition Service Office at 724-397-5551 ext. 1344.
  • A new application per household MUST be submitted by the parent/guardian every year.
    • Parents/guardians are encouraged to submit the new application within the 30 day grace period at the start of the school year, however, applications are accepted throughout the school year.
    • If a new application is not received and approved prior to the grace period deadline, the student will be put on full pay status.
    • Any debt incurred during a lapse in free/reduced meal benefits will be the responsibility of the student/parent.
    • Parents/guardians who receive a letter in the summer from the district that their students are Directly Certified for Free meals DO NOT need to fill out a Free/Reduced application for that upcoming school year.
  • Students approved for the free/reduced lunch program will receive one free/reduced breakfast and one free/reduced lunch per day.
    • Additional meals and milk must be purchased at the full price. A la carte items and extra milk are not covered under the free/reduced program. 
    • Students must take at least three meal components for the meal to be reimbursable under the free/reduced program.
    • If a student does not take the required elements for the meal, they will be encouraged by the cashier to take the needed items. If the student refuses to take the needed items, the items will be charged at full price. 





MCASD Meal Prices:


Breakfast - Paid    Elementary   -  $1.35                                Lunch – Paid    Elementary  -  $2.50

Breakfast - Paid    Jr. / Sr. HS   -  $1.35                                 Lunch – Paid    Jr. / Sr. HS   -  $2.75


Breakfast – Reduced                                                                 Lunch – Reduced

Elementary / Jr. / Sr.  HS    - $ .30                                            Elementary / Jr. / Sr.  HS   - $ .40


Theft/Vandalism Procedure


  • Theft from the nutrition service department, vandalism to property, equipment, building, seating areas pertaining to the nutrition service department will be handled through school disciplinary procedures.
  • Loss of inventory or damage to equipment resulting from the actions of student groups, PTA, or community service groups will be billed to the group involved.


Seating and Serving Area Procedure


  • Students are to dispose of garbage prior to leaving the seating area. Tables are to be left empty and free of debris.
  • Students are to place dirty trays neatly on the dish room line. Throwing, breaking, or other abuse of trays is subject to school disciplinary policy.
  • Proper school conduct is expected at all times in the cafeteria. The use of tobacco products, spitting and profanity is strictly prohibited.
  • Line cutting, moving ahead of others in the serving line, is prohibited. Violators will be sent to the rear of the serving line.


Wellness Policy


The current district wellness policy, results of the most recent triennial assessment, and information on our wellness committee can be found on the district website,