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Top 5 Ways to Reduce Unpaid Lunch and Aftercare Payments

With rising food costs and the ongoing struggle for many families to make ends meet, it is not uncommon for school meal programs to have a number of them unpaid. In fact, a survey conducted in 2014 related to school nutrition indicated that close to 71-percent of schools had a meal program that was carrying a good sized unpaid student debt. When schools cannot collect on this debt it can put them in a crucial financial state that can affect other school programs. However, there are ways to alleviate this unpaid school meal debt. Here is a look at them:

1– Develop A Solid Charge Policy

One of the ways in which school pay fees go unpaid is when the policy in place is well, not very clear on what is expected of parents or other details. A pay for school meals policy does not need to be complicated but it should cover several points including:

  • Full dollar amount being charged and how many meals that covers
  • If charges can be paid in full, reoccurring and if they include any other charges (taxes, etc.)
  • Meal alternatives if the charge amount is exceeded
  • How parents will be notified (e-mail, phone call, letter)
  • How outstanding payments will be recovered (small claims court, collection agency)

It is also important for schools to communicate frequently with parents regarding the costs expected of them prior to the start of each school year. This can be done in many ways and can include open houses, information on school district websites with downloadable forms, letters, phone calls, e-mails.

2– Promote Participation

At the start of a new school year parents have just a small window of opportunity with which to put together their school fee commitment. One way in which to assist parents which will in turn assist with collection of school pay fees is to more or less give them a hand. You can do this in several ways including:

  • Mail hard copy application forms to parents
  • Provide online downloadable application form options
  • Offer school payment solutions so you can collect online school payments

When you give parents a little extra help with completing the task of arranging for school fee payments, you stand a better chance at having those fees paid in advance. It will take extra effort and for some schools where staffing is already low it can become a heavy workload but the benefits of higher payments received will make the extra work worthwhile.

3– Monitor Those Students Requiring Help With Fee Payments

There are going to be students who are going to arrive at school without lunch. Many of those will resort to charging meals even if they have been warned not to do this. This situation may actually be a signal about something far more serious than not being able to pay for school meals. It could be a sign of a bigger problem going on at the student’s home.

Depending on the specifics, there are a number of ways this could be resolved. The student may qualify for a free meal program and school administration may end up completing the necessary paperwork in order to ensure the student gets meals at lunchtime. However, some families have income levels that may exempt the student and in this case the school can explore other payment options through the PTA, local non-profit organizations or donations received at the school.

4– Tell Parents When They Owe Money

Parents need to be informed when they need to pay for something. In the situation regarding school lunch payment, if a student slides into a negative balance, it is best to contact the parents as soon as possible rather than waiting for the end of the month or semester to issue a statement. Parents notified early can resolve the issue quicker. By offering a school payment solution, that outstanding fee can be covered immediately with a credit or debit card payment.

When you use a digital payment solution, you make it easier for parents to keep on top of the school fees expected of them. It also keeps the school cash flow moving in a direction it should be flowing.

5– Encourage Prepayment Plans

Everybody has heard about a prepayment plan. What it essentially does is puts funds into the school bank account before they are needed. With a high volume of prepayments, schools do not have to hold off on spending plans waiting for the additional monies to be received. Prepayments give the school cash flow in advance and permits early budget spending.

One way to encourage parents to make prepayments is to offer an incentive of some kind. Most commonly the school fee incentive can be a percentage discount on fees if all are paid by a certain date. After that date all fees would have to be paid in full. In thirty days after that date, payments would be considered late and would incur a penalty of some form. That penalty can be a percentage tacked on to the full amount.

The prepayment plan you devise for your students has to be fair and take into account the circumstances of all households recognizing that some may struggle with any kind of payment so a discount on prepayment may provide the added incentive for some of these households to pay in advance.

The Best School Payment Solutions Are Online Options

The best way to reduce unpaid lunch and aftercare payments is by making the payment policy clear and understandable. If you provide parents with assistance in getting their paperwork together and give them easy online payment options, you stand a better chance at getting those payments on time.

By implementing an online payment program for parents to pay athletic fees and other school costs, you make it much easier for them to pay. Credit card and debit card payment options are faster to process and allow parents with a simple solution to covering costs for student meals and additional schooling costs.

For more information on an online school payment solution, call us today at 844-438-7566 or get started for free by going to We can help you increase the percentage of paid school lunches with one of the best school payment solutions. You can also share your tips and success stories with us on social media via hashtag: #K12PiggyBanks.


This sponsored article was written by Skookii