Managing Meal Accounts

In accordance with state and federal law, the Johnston Community School District adopts the following policy to ensure school district employees, families, and students have a shared understanding of expectations regarding meal charges. The policy seeks to allow students to receive the nutrition they need to stay focused during the school day, prevent the overt identification of students with insufficient funds to pay for school meals, and maintain the financial integrity of the nonprofit school nutrition program. 

Payment of Meals 

Each student is assigned a computerized meal account. Parents/Guardians pre-pay into a student’s meal account by sending a check to the child’s school, district office or paying on-line with debit/credit at the district website. During meal service, students enter a personal pin number or scan an ID Badge (if applicable) at the cash register. The computer debits and records purchases from the student’s lunch account. The nutrition department closely monitors student accounts to prevent negative balances and charges. 

Free/Reduced Priced Meals 

Free and reduced priced meals are available to those families who qualify. Information regarding free or reduced priced meals will be provided at least twice annually to the parents or guardians of all enrolled students. 

Students who qualify for free meals shall never be denied a reimbursable meal, even if they have accrued a negative balance from previous purchases. Schools are encouraged to provide a reimbursable meal to students with outstanding meal charge debt.

2023-24 Online Free and Reduced Lunch Application

If you prefer to fill out the paper Free and Reduced application, please call the Nutrition office at 515-278-0470.

Negative Account Balances 

The school district will make reasonable efforts to notify families when meal account balances are low. However, the failure of the school district to notify families shall not relieve families’ obligations to keep meal account balances current; nor shall it prevent the school district from being able to take all actions legally available to collect any delinquent account balances.

If a student account balance is zero or negative they will be allowed to charge full meals only. Extra entrees, milk or ala carte items will not be allowed unless payment is made. When the student account balance reaches -$10.00 or more negative, notification by phone call, email or letter will be sent to the parent or guardian at least 1 time per week.

Additionally, the school district will make reasonable efforts to collect unpaid meal charges classified as delinquent debt. Negative balances of more than $50.00 not paid prior to the end of the school year will be turned over to the Director of Nutrition Services or designee for collection. Options may include: collection agencies, small claims court, or any other legal method permitted by law. 

Employees are not allowed to charge meals or ala carte items. 

Unpaid Student Meals Account 

The district will establish an unpaid student meals account in a school nutrition fund. Funds from private sources and funds from the district flexibility account may be deposited into the unpaid school meals account in accordance with law. Funds deposited into this account shall be used only to pay individual student meal debt. 

Communication of the Policy 

The policy and supporting information regarding meal charges shall be provided in writing to: 

  • All households at or before the start of each school year; 
  • Students and families who transfer into the district, at time of transfer; and 
  • All staff responsible for enforcing any aspect of the policy. 

Records of how and when the policy and supporting information was communicated to households and staff will be retained. 

The Director of Nutrition Services or designee may develop an administrative process to implement this policy. 

LaRae Doll staff photo
Director of Nutrition & Food Services
District Office